Impacts of diverted freshwater on dissolved organic matter and microbial communities in Barataria Bay, Louisiana, U.S.A.

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Here we present results of an initial assessment of the impacts of a water diversion event on the concentrations and chemical composition of dissolved organic matter (DOM) and bacterioplankton community composition in Barataria Bay, Louisiana U.S.A, an important estuary within the Mississippi River Delta complex. Concentrations and spectral properties of DOM, as reflected by UV/visible absorbance and fluorescence, were strikingly similar at 26 sites sampled along transects near two western and two eastern areas of Barataria Bay in July and September 2010. In September 2010, dissolved organic carbon (DOC) was significantly higher (568.1-1043 μM C, x = 755.6 +/- 117.7 μM C, n = 14) than in July 2010 (249.1-577.1 μM C, x = 383.7 +/- 98.31 μM C, n = 14); conversely, Abs 254 was consistently higher at every site in July (0.105-0.314) than in September (0.080-0.221), averaging 0.24 ± 0.06 in July and 0.15 ± 0.04 in September. Fluorescence data via the fluorescence index (FI 450/500) revealed that only 30% (8 of 26) of the July samples had an FI 450/500 above 1.36, compared to 96% (25 of 26) for the September samples. This indicates a more terrestrial origin for the July DOM. Bacterioplankton from eastern sites differed in composition from bacterioplankon in western sites in July. These differences appeared to result from reduced salinities caused by the freshwater diversion. Bacterioplankton communities in September differed from those in July, but no spatial structure was observed. Thus, the trends in bacterioplankton and DOM were likely due to changes in water masses (e.g., input of Mississippi River water in July and a return to estuarine waters in September). Discharge of water from the Davis Pond Freshwater Diversion (DPFD) through Barataria Bay may have partially mitigated some adverse effects of the oil spill, inasmuch as DOM is concerned. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

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Marine Environmental Research

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