2008 Joint Meeting of The Geological Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies with the Gulf Coast Section of SEPM

Paper No. 11
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-4:45 PM

Effects of Paper Mill Effluents on the Foraminifera Community In the Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserve and Surrounding Waters of the Apalachee Bay, Florida

COBURN, Eric P., LOBEGEIER, Melissa K. and GOMBERT, Marjorie, Department of Geosciences, Middle Tennessee State University, Box 9, Murfreesboro, TN 37132, ec2m@mtsu.edu

Foraminifera, single-celled organisms with mineralized shells, play a key role in the ecosystems in which they liveĀ—from being part of the food chain to reflecting the health of the ecosystem. Foraminifera can be found living on the seagrasses in the Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserve (BBSAP) located in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida. The BBSAP is an important region as it supports large fish and shellfish populations and is a home for many endangered species, including manatees. The BBSAP is cut in half due to sparse seagrass growth where the Fenholloway River empties into the Gulf of Mexico. This area of sparse seagrass growth is thought to be a result of effluent discharged into the Fenholloway River by the Buckeye Florida L.P. paper mill. In this study, seagrass blades and sediment samples were collected in February 2008 and examined for foraminifera. Additional samples will be collected in August 2008. The usefulness of foraminifera in studying the effects of effluent from the paper mill is due to: 1) their diversity (with over 2400 identified genera); 2) readily preserved shells; 3) quick reproduction rates and rapid growth; and 4) responses to ecological changes which can be species-specific. Sampling locations included the mouth of the Fenholloway River, the mouth of the Econfina River to the north and Dekle and Keaton Beaches to the south of the Fenholloway River. Samples will also be collected at an unpolluted locality to be used as a control site. An important aspect of this study will be to see how widely the effects of the effluent are being felt in the Gulf. This is significant because the bay area is heavily fished and shellfish are collected for human consumption at the beaches near the mouth of the Fenholloway River.