Evaluating the Impacts of Coastal Development on the Sinuosity and Water Quality of Tidal Creek Headwaters in the Southeast
McHouell, Brian Michael
MetadataShow full item record
Accelerated changes in coastal landscapes are considered major sources of stress that have been linked to habitat loss, geomorphologic changes, and water quality degradation of headwater tidal creek ecosystems. Population density, land cover, number of development-related ponds, impervious cover, and stormwater runoff volume within forty-eight headwater tidal creek watersheds, representing a range of developed conditions, were evaluated over a 20-year period to assess landscape changes. Overall, significant increases in development were observed over the study period with differences observed at different time intervals. Eighteen of the 48 headwater tidal creeks were sampled during the summers of 2014 and 2015. Each was sampled for basic water quality, nutrients, bacteria indicators, and <i>Vibrio</i> bacteria. In addition, sinuosity was estimated for each creek for several time points. Data sets were compared to that of previous sampling efforts to evaluate the degree to which impervious cover relates to various indicators, and identify linkages between impervious cover and tidal creek environmental quality. In general, similar relationships between impervious cover and water quality (i.e., nitrate/nitrite, ammonium, fecal coliforms) were observed within this study compared to past studies. However, a general decrease in bacteria indicators was observed. In addition, <i>Vibrio vulnificus</i> was found to have a significant relationship with the amount of impervious cover. For sinuosity, a general decrease was observed though this was not significant among the land use classes. The results of this study provide managers and planners with information that can be used in communicating and improving the current understanding of development on coastal ecosystems.