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Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves Sediment Sampling Program Quick Links

Monitoring of the sediments in Biscayne Bay is another important way that scientists and managers can gather data on the historical conditions in the bay. This helps determine proper freshwater input restoration targets, as well as identifying what potential threats there are to the bay's ecology. The use of foraminifera, a class of microscopic shelled protists (single-celled organisms), can be used as bioindicators of coastal pollution. Forminifera have short lifespans and are among the last to disappear from the site they inhabit. They remain well preserved in the sedimentary record, are widely distributed, and are cost-effective to sample with minimal impact to the environment. They are commonly referred to as "forams" and studies of foram assemblages (more than one species lives in a community) date back from the 1940s through present day. Studies have provided information on historic salinities in the bay and changes over time as well as heavy metal contaminants from industrial such as polychlorinated biphenyls and agricultural runoff, such as pesticides. Deformities of the forams shell can indicate presence of pollutants. The Foraminifera in Reef Assessment and Monitoring Index exists to provide resource managers with a measure independent of coral populations to determine whether or not water quality in an area is suitable for coral growth or recovery.

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Last updated: June 27, 2014

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