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Keywords:

  • Chesapeake Bay;
  • forecasting;
  • modeling;
  • pathogen;
  • Vibrio

Abstract

Aim

To construct statistical models to predict the presence, abundance and potential virulence of Vibrio vulnificus in surface waters of Chesapeake Bay for implementation in ecological forecasting systems.

Methods and Results

We evaluated and applied previously published qPCR assays to water samples (n = 1636) collected from Chesapeake Bay from 2007–2010 in conjunction with State water quality monitoring programmes. A variety of statistical techniques were used in concert to identify water quality parameters associated with V. vulnificus presence, abundance and virulence markers in the interest of developing strong predictive models for use in regional oceanographic modeling systems. A suite of models are provided to represent the best model fit and alternatives using environmental variables that allow them to be put to immediate use in current ecological forecasting efforts.

Conclusions

Environmental parameters such as temperature, salinity and turbidity are capable of accurately predicting abundance and distribution of V. vulnificus in Chesapeake Bay. Forcing these empirical models with output from ocean modeling systems allows for spatially explicit forecasts for up to 48 h in the future.

Significance and Impact of the Study

This study uses one of the largest data sets compiled to model Vibrio in an estuary, enhances our understanding of environmental correlates with abundance, distribution and presence of potentially virulent strains and offers a method to forecast these pathogens that may be replicated in other regions.