The hydrologic and biological dynamics of the oligohaline transitional zone, where nutrients and organic matter from the upper water shed first enter an estuary, can significantly impact the biogeochemical cycling and productivity of the entire estuarine ecosystem. We observed a strong influence of freshwater residency time on the contribution of benthic and pelagic production sources in the food web in the upper Parker River. By using long term data we are able to infer how changes in flow may alter the source of production and community composition in the oligohaline transitional zone. As climate change shifts the timing and amount of freshwater inputs to estuaries or results suggest that the source of production to the estuary will also be impacted.
Information from this project will allow managers and citizen groups to determine how much freshwater inflow is needed to sustain productive estuaries.