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Suspension Feeders: A Workshop to Assess What We Know, Don't Know and Need to Know to Determine their Effects on Water Quality

Published: December 01, 2002

Available in digital format and hardcopy. Phytoplankton standing stocks, production, and species composition are potentially influenced by both the supply of nutrients to the bottom of the food web and removal by suspension feeders higher in the food web. Similarly, suspended sediment concentrations are determined by both their loading rates and their removal or settlement from the water column. Most management activities to date in the Chesapeake Bay watershed have addressed the supply end of these relationships by attempting to reduce nutrient and sediment loading to waters within the Chesapeake Bay watershed. However, to predict the relationship between nutrient or sediment loading and water quality, it is also important to understand and predict the potential top-down effect of suspension feeders such as menhaden, zooplankton, bivalves, and other benthic invertebrates on phytoplankton and suspended sediment. The current Chesapeake Bay agreement includes the commitment: By 2004 assess the effects of different population levels of filter feeders such as menhaden, oysters, and clams on Bay water quality and habitat. This workshop, sponsored by the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC), was a response to this commitment. The workshop report summarizes discussions and outlines steps recommended to meet the filter feeder commitment.

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