For more than a decade, inexpensive electronic instruments have made continuous underwater light monitoring an integral part of many seagrass studies. Although biofouling, if not controlled, compromises the utility of the record. A year-long assessment of the time course of sensor fouling, in the Laguna Madre of Texas established that light transmitted through the fouling layer after 2 wk of exposure exceeded 90% except for a 6-8 wk period in May and June. On that basis, a 2-wk interval was chosen for routine servicing. Subsequent monitoring proved this choice to be grossly in error. The period of sub-90% transmittance after 2 wk extended to 4-6 mo annually over the next 3 yr. Fouling was strongly correlated with temperature, ambient light, and year. Since an algal bloom of 7-yr duration finally waned during this study, increased ambient light seemed most likely to explain increased fouling later in the study. The explanatory value of light was less than temperature or year in multiple regression, requiring some other explanation of the date effect than change in ambient light. Allelopathic and suspension-feeding depressant effects of the brown tide are offered as the most likely cause of unusually low fouling in the first year. Biofouling was so unpredictable and rapid in this study that at least weekly maintenance would be required to assure reliability of the light monitoring record. ?? 2006 Estuarine Research Federation.
Additional publication details
Biofouling and the continuous monitoring of underwater light from a seagrass perspective