Funding for this project made possible by the Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Chesapeake Bay Office
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Patuxent Project
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Map of the PatuxentMonitoring

This page provides a more in depth illustration of the monitoring process used by the MD-DNR as part of the large scale restoration process in the Patuxent River.

Restoration does not conclude after planting or seeding. Monitoring of the newly established beds and associated habitat conditions in and around those beds helps us to gauge the success of our efforts, to evaluate reasons for success or failure and, in turn, improve the likelihood of success of future projects.

Seedling Success
Dispersed seeds germinate through the winter. New vegetative shoots emerge in early spring (April). Md DNR staff members assess the success of the previous year’s seeding 6 and 12 months after dispersal by estimating shoot density, shoot height, and percent cover in the plots.

Underwater photo of Zostera marina
Underwater photo of Zostera
during a plot assessment

Seedlings from 2004 seedings have been located during recent initial observations (April 2005).  Detailed results will become available once plants develop further.

To determine whether the eelgrass beds created during restoration activities are expanding through vegetative propagation and/or natural seeding, the restoration sites are surveyed in the fall, winter, and spring following the seeding using aerial overflights and groundtruthing with a handheld mapping GPS.


Habitat Monitoring
Monitoring is continued throughout the eelgrass growing season (March – November)

a photo showing dataflow equipment a Schematic of Dataflow system
The Maryland DNR’s water quality mapping program

1. Spatially intensive water quality monitoring is conducted once per month throughout the eelgrass growing season (March – November) throughout the lower portion of the river utilizing recently developed DATAFLOW systems. Five environmental parameters (water temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, turbidity (ntu), and fluorescence (used to estimate chlorophyll a) are collected from a flow-through stream of water collected near the surface of the water column.

2. Temporally intensive habitat assessments are conducted to compliment the monthly water quality mapping.
a photo showing a continuous monitor being deployed a photo showing continuous monitoring equipment
Continuous monitors (YSI 6600 EDS) will be located at each restoration site. Each continuous monitor records water temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen concentration, turbidity (ntu), fluorescence (used to estimate chlorophyll a), pH, and reduction potential every 15 minutes throughout the SAV growing season and all data is downloaded weekly.

3. Long-Term Monitoring The Department of Natural Resources Tidewater Ecosystem Assessment Division is responsible for a comprehensive long-term water quality and habitat monitoring program in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay and tidal tributaries. A comprehensive set of parameters including physical/chemical properties, nutrient limitation of algal growth, ecosystem processes, river inputs of nutrients and sediments, phytoplankton, zooplankton, and benthic organisms are assessed. In addition to current water quality data, information gained from this program can be used to detect changes in trends of water quality, and learn more about the role of anthropogenic and natural stresses, management actions, and relationships between water quality and living resources in an effort to better understand the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem.

Go To Maryland DNR’s Eyes on the Bay Website to view water quality data.

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