University of Florida
Quantification and Ecological Role of Snag Habitat in the Apalachicola River, Florida.
Degree: MS, Interdisciplinary Ecology, 2008, University of Florida
The Apalachicola River has the greatest discharge of any river in the State of Florida, and has one of the largest forested floodplains of any river in the southeastern US. Rapid urbanization of the upper ACF basin, as well as several extensive droughts in the region have resulted in increased demands for water withdrawals and flow regulation for municipal, commercial, and agricultural uses throughout the basin. This has positioned the states of Florida, Georgia, and Alabama, along with several federal agencies, in a surface water allocation and management conflict. Of particular concern are minimum flows and levels required to maintain healthy biotic communities during periods of regional drought, when water demands are at their highest, and the resource is most limited. Very low flows confine the primarily sandy-bottomed Apalachicola River to its main channel, where snags serve as the only stable structural habitat for the riverine fauna. This study aimed to assess the ecological importance, and quantify the amount of snags submerged in the Apalachicola River as a result of variations in flow regime. Additionally, the distributions of snags based on river-bank habitat and geomorphological characteristics were also examined to assess their role in snag habitat availability. Traditional aquatic snag quantification methods were not feasible in the exceedingly turbid, high-order Coastal Plain river; therefore, a novel method using digital imaging analysis techniques was developed for analysis. Area and percentage of available snag habitat submerged were analyzed at 0.5-m elevations above water level for 60 sampling stations along the Apalachicola River at a relatively-low river discharge. Snag area values generated using the novel methods presented in this study were credible for steep sloping bank, gentle sloping bank and dike field habitat types, but were erroneously-elevated for sandbar stations. Snag quantities of non-sandbar stations were found to be greatest within the first 1.0 m of exposed bank for nearly all sites surveyed, while steep sloping banks typically exhibited the most uniform vertical snag distribution. In most cases, geomorphic classifications demonstrated no considerable effect on non-sandbar habitat snag distribution; however, the outer banks of river bends exhibited a more balanced vertical distribution of snags than inner banks of river bends or along the banks of river straightaways. Limitations and proposed modifications to the digital imaging methods are discussed, and recommendations are provided in support of increased water flows for ecological sustainability in the Apalachicola River. ( en )
Advisors/Committee Members: Wise, William R. (committee chair), Walsh, Stephen J. (committee member), Mossa, Joann (committee member).
Subjects/Keywords: Aquatic habitats; Basins; Ecology; Fish; Fisheries; Floodplains; River water; Riverbanks; Rivers; Streams; apalachicola, bay, chattahoochee, discharge, ecology, estuary, fauna, flint, florida, flow, geomorphology, habitat, level, minimum, quantification, regulated, river, snag, stage, wood; City of Apalachicola ( local )
to Zotero / EndNote / Reference
APA (6th Edition):
Burgess, M. (2008). Quantification and Ecological Role of Snag Habitat in the Apalachicola River, Florida. (Masters Thesis). University of Florida. Retrieved from https://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0022366
Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition):
Burgess, Matthew. “Quantification and Ecological Role of Snag Habitat in the Apalachicola River, Florida.” 2008. Masters Thesis, University of Florida. Accessed April 22, 2021.
MLA Handbook (7th Edition):
Burgess, Matthew. “Quantification and Ecological Role of Snag Habitat in the Apalachicola River, Florida.” 2008. Web. 22 Apr 2021.
Burgess M. Quantification and Ecological Role of Snag Habitat in the Apalachicola River, Florida. [Internet] [Masters thesis]. University of Florida; 2008. [cited 2021 Apr 22].
Available from: https://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0022366.
Council of Science Editors:
Burgess M. Quantification and Ecological Role of Snag Habitat in the Apalachicola River, Florida. [Masters Thesis]. University of Florida; 2008. Available from: https://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0022366