Skidaway River Monitoring Program

The Skidaway River adjacent to the UGA Skidaway Institute campus

In estuaries of the South Atlantic Bight, one of the longest and most extensive datasets of plankton and bacteria biomass and composition is from the Skidaway River (31°59’ N, 81°01’ W) and the associated Wassaw Sound estuarine system in Georgia. Wassaw Sound is a tidally dominated, bar-built estuary surrounded by extensive stands of salt marsh. Although pristine compared to industrially impacted waterways such as the Savannah River and Charleston Harbor, residential development and population density around the Wassaw Sound system have been increasing rapidly.

Since 1986 the Skidaway River Monitoring Program (SRiMP) has maintained a time series observation dataset of hydrography, nutrients, phytoplankton, heterotrophic microbial communities, mesozooplankton, representative gelatinous nekton, and dissolved oxygen (Table 1) as well as meterological data.

SRiMP monitoring locations

Water samples have been collected approximately weekly from the main dock of the Skidaway River Estuary at the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography. The start of the program was coincident with the rapid development of Skidaway Island, Georiga USA that has transformed a marsh and maritime forest covered ancient barrier island to an island dominated by a residential luxury golf course community. Population growth in the 1980’s was as high as 25% annually, but has since declined to <3% annually as island development has neared completion. Evidence from the SRiMP study support the hypothesis of causative linkages between human population growth, nutrient loading, and ecosystem alteration.

Table 1 shows the of sampling parameters and frequency of the SRiMP data set.

Table1 SRiMP – Sampling Parameters and Frequency

Parameter Frequency of Sampling Data From
1Rainfall Continuous 1986
1Tidal Stage Continuous 1986
1Meterological Continuous 1986
Temperature Weekly 1986
Salinity Weekly 1986
Dissolved Oxygen Weekly 1986
Dissolved Nutrients Weekly 1986
POC and PON Weekly 1986
Chlorophyll-a Weekly 1986
Bacterial Biomass Weekly 1986
Plankton Community Structure 4 times/yr 1986
Auto/hetero-nano/microplankton Weekly 1986
Diatom Biomass Weekly 1986
Acartia spp. Weekly 1986
Viral Biomass Weekly 1998
Fecal Indicators Weekly 1999
Gelatinous Zooplankton Weekly 2007
pH Weekly 2011
Conductivity Weekly 2011
Turbidity Weekly 2011
Secchi Depth Weekly 2011
DIC – Stable Isotopes Weekly 2011
POC, PON Stable Isotopes Weekly 2012
DOC, TDN Weekly 2012
Live Plankton Weekly 2012
Resipration (BOD) Bi-weekly 2012
Picoplankton Monthly 2012
1Continuously measured since 2007

SRiMP Dataset
SRiMP Publications

 For additional information, contact Marc Frischer.