NCCOS led a six month-long ecological assessment (EA) this year in the Tred Avon River, the largest tributary of the Choptank River in Chesapeake Bay. The Choptank River Complex is one of ten U.S. Habitat Focus Areas designated by NOAA for the purpose of concentrating agency investments and expertise at the landscape scale to improve the resilience of natural resources to climate change and other challenges.
Water, sediment, and fish samples were used to assess water quality, nutrient levels, chemical contaminant concentrations, benthic habitat and community condition, fish community composition, and fish health. Samples were collected from May-October from eight locations representing different land uses in the Tred Avon to provide an opportunity for comparison of impacts. Additionally, the habitat condition of important fish spawning areas were assessed in nearby King's Creek.
Data analyzed and synthesized in this project will support concurrent Habitat Focus Areas, oyster restoration efforts, and contribute to a baseline of information against which the impacts of future climate change or other stressors can be evaluated.
In the broader Choptank complex, a comprehensive geodatabase was compiled for the Choptank watershed and will be translated into a digital atlas. Vegetation surveys were conducted along the Choptank shoreline in order to ground-truth satellite imagery captured of the entire watershed. These data will be incorporated into high-resolution wetland habitat maps. Local, state, regional, federal and NGO stakeholders will be able to usethese product and tools to address their information needs.
Partners in this project include Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Creighton University, Delaware State University, and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. Student interns from NOAA's Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center and Five College Coastal and Marine Sciences Program provided field and laboratory support.