The Ecological Condition of Estuaries in the Gulf of Mexico




US National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory

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US Environmental Protection Agency Office of Research and Development


This document is intended for use by scientists and other citizens concerned with the ecological condition of estuaries, as well as by managers and lawmakers interested in the sustained use of estuaries for commercial and recreational purposes. It also addresses public concerns about the aesthetic quality of coastal areas vital to tourism and recreation. By producing this report on the ecological condition of estuaries in the Gulf of Mexico, we have taken one step in assessing the health of this environmental resource. We have produced an environmental report card to be used as a guide in the evaluation of management decisions and research directions. This report is organized in three parts: (1) an introduction that gives background information on the Gulf of Mexico, estuarine ecology, and the factors that impact estuaries in the gulf, (2) th main section on priority ecological indicators used to measure the condition of estuaries in the gulf and (3) an ecological report card that summarizes the data on ecological indicators and provides a rating of the condition of estuaries in each gulf state and for gulf estuaries overall. Many of the ratings were based on the percent area of estuaries in each state exhibiting degraded or adverse levels of an indicator.


71 pages; available for download at the link below.


algal blooms, chlorophyll a, dissolved oxygen, estuaries, estuarine health, eutrophication, freshwater inflow, habitat change, land use, natural habitat, nutrients, sediment contaminants, submerged aquatic vegetation, water quality, wetlands