HRI Seminar Series - Dr. Paul Montagna
Conference Room 127
6300 Ocean Drive, Corpus Christi, TX 78412
"Importance of Freshwater Inflow to Texas Estuaries"
ENDOWED CHAIR FOR HYDROECOLOGY
HARTE RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR GULF OF MEXICO STUDIES
How much fresh water should flow into a bay for it to be healthy? There is probably no better place on Earth to compare effects caused by inflow differences than the Texas coast, because the major estuarine systems lie in a climatic gradient where runoff decreases 56-fold from the Louisiana border in the northeast to the Mexico border in the southwest. This estuary-comparison experiment was used for >34 years to study inflow effects on water and sediment quality. The science evolved from the idea that organisms responded directly to flow rates to the domino theory of indirect effects where inflow drives estuary conditions that organisms respond to those habitat conditions. Today it is hypothesized that climate drives hydrology, which drives estuary dynamics; and thus, climatic factors can indirectly shape estuarine structure and function. Assuming change along the inflow gradient is analogous to effects of altering estuaries over time, we can now predict ecosystem change with changing climate or land-use change.
Dr. Paul Montagna is the Endowed Chair for HydroEcology at the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, Professor in the Physical and Environmental Sciences Department, Regents Professor for the Texas A&M System, Co-Editor in Chief for the scientific journal Estuaries and Coasts, Campus Lead for the NOAA Center for Coastal & Marine Ecosystems, and Director of the Texas OneGulf Center of Excellence.