System Wide Monitoring Program

With over 25 sites that reflect the diverse coastal biogeographic regions of the Nation, the National Estuarine Research Reserve System is ideally suited for a long-term trend-monitoring program to address estuarine management issues. The System Wide Monitoring Program (SWMP) was created to identify and track short-term variability and long-term changes in representative estuarine ecosystems and coastal watersheds.

SWMP is a phased monitoring approach that focuses on three different ecosystem characteristics:

  • Abiotic Factors, including atmospheric, water quality (nutrients, contaminants, etc.) and physical parameters (salinity, tidal range, groundwater, freshwater inflow, bathymetry, etc.)
  • Biological Monitoring, including biodiversity habitat and population characteristics
  • Watershed and Land Use Classifications, including historic changes in spatial coverage and assessments of consumptive and non-consumptive uses

The Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve – MD is working with government agencies in the Bay region to integrate their SWMP into the bay-wide water quality monitoring effort to assess shallow water habitats. This integrated effort will provide managers with information to help characterize water and habitat conditions and identify specific problem areas throughout the Bay’s tidal waters. Data collected through this effort is available at usually within one week of collection.

Additional information on the program can be found at these web sites: