Tampa Bay, one of the Gulf of Mexico’s largest estuaries, exemplifies the environmental stresses that our nation’s bays and estuaries face. More than 2 million people live in the Tampa Bay watershed, and the population continues to grow. Increased development demands more fresh water, creates greater air and water pollution, and results in continued anthropogenic alterations in the Bay and along its coast. Successful management of our nation’s coastal resources requires an understanding of how natural and anthropogenic changes have affected coastal ecosystems in the past, and how these changes will continue to affect these resources in the future.
The USGS Tampa Bay Study responded to the need to use an integrated science approach for studying the interrelations between geological, biological, chemical, and hydrological components of estuarine systems, and the impact of natural and anthropogenic change to all components of estuarine systems. The USGS Geological (GD), Biological Resources (BRD), Water Resources (WRD), and National Mapping Disciplines (NMD) worked together with other federal, state, and local partners to develop and implement an integrated, multidisciplinary science strategy for estuarine research.