John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Determining the effects of freshwater inflow on benthic macrofauna in the Caloosahatchee Estuary, Florida

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Florida legislation requires determining and implementing an appropriate range and frequency of freshwater inflows that will sustain a fully functional estuary. Changes in inflow dynamics to the Caloosahatchee Estuary, Florida have altered salinity regimes which in turn have altered the ecological integrity of the estuary. The purpose of this current project is to determine how changes in freshwater inflows affect water quality, and in turn benthic macrofauna, spatially within the Caloosahatchee Estuary and between multi‐year wet and dry periods. Thirty‐four benthic species were identified as being indicator species for salinity zones, and the estuary was divided into four zones based on differences in community structure within the estuary. Community structure had the highest correlations with water quality parameters that were common indicators of freshwater conditions resulting from inflows. A significant relationship between salinity and diversity occurs both spatially and temporally because of increased numbers of marine species as salinities increase. A salinity‐based model was used to estimate inflow during wet and dry periods for each of the macrofauna community zones. The approach used here, (identifying bioindicators, and community zones with corresponding inflow ranges) is generic and will be useful for developing targets for managing inflow in estuaries world‐wide. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved

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