Statistical power to detect change in a mangrove shoreline fish community adjacent to a nuclear power plant

  • T. E. Dolan
  • P. D. Lynch
  • J. L. Karazsia
  • J. E. Serafy


An expansion is underway of a nuclear power plant on the shoreline of Biscayne Bay, Florida, USA. While the precise effects of its construction and operation are unknown, impacts on surrounding marine habitats and biota are considered by experts to be likely. The objective of the present study was to determine the adequacy of an ongoing monitoring survey of fish communities associated with mangrove habitats directly adjacent to the power plant to detect fish community changes, should they occur, at three spatial scales. Using seasonally resolved data recorded during 532 fish surveys over an 8-year period, power analyses were performed for four mangrove fish metrics (fish diversity, fish density, and the occurrence of two ecologically important fish species: gray snapper (Lutjanus griseus) and goldspotted killifish (Floridichthys carpio). Results indicated that the monitoring program at current sampling intensity allows for detection of <33 % changes in fish density and diversity metrics in both the wet and the dry season in the two larger study areas. Sampling effort was found to be insufficient in either season to detect changes at this level (<33 %) in species-specific occurrence metrics for the two fish species examined. The option of supplementing ongoing, biological monitoring programs for improved, focused change detection deserves consideration from both ecological and cost-benefit perspectives.


Power analysis Fish assemblages Monitoring Impact assessment Nuclear power plant 



This work was conducted under Special Activity License 07SR-1015. Financial support was provided through Restoration Coordination and Verification funds from the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan provided to J. Serafy. We appreciate the constructive feedback provided by anonymous reviewers. P.B. Teare predominantly conducted field sampling, with support from numerous student volunteers for whom we have deep gratitude. This study is dedicated to the memory of M. South.


  1. Alvarez, M., Franco, A., Pérez-Domínguez, R., & Elliott, M. (2013). Sensitivity analysis to explore responsiveness and dynamic range of multi-metric fish-based indices for assessing the ecological status of estuaries and lagoons. Hydrobiologia, 704, 15. doi: 10.1007/s10750-012-1314-7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Angermeier, P., & Smogor, R. (1995). Estimating number of species and relative abundances in stream-fish communities: effects of sampling effort and discontinuous spatial distribution. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 52, 13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bachman, P. M., & Rand, G. M. (2008). Effects of salinity on native estuarine fish species in South Florida. Ecotoxicology, 17, 6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bader, R. G., & Roessler, M. A. (1971). An ecological study of south Biscayne Bay and Card Sound, Florida. Progress report to the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AT(40-1)-3801-3) and Florida Power and Light Company (Vol. ML 71066). Miami: University of Miami.Google Scholar
  5. Bender, E. A., Case, T. J., & Gilpin, M. E. (1984). Perturbation experiments in community ecology: theory and practice. Ecology, 65, 12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Browder, J. A., & Moore, D. (1981). A new approach to determining the quantitative relationship between fishery production and the flow of fresh water to estuaries. Paper presented at the National symposium on freshwater inflow to estuaries, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  7. Browder, J. A., & Ogden, J. C. (1999). The natural south Florida ecosystem predrainage ecology. Urban Ecosystems, 3, 32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brujis, M. C. M., & Jenner, H. A. (2012). Cooling water system design in relation to fouling pressure. In S. Rajagopal, H. A. Jenner, & V. P. Venugopalan (Eds.), Operational and environmental consequences of large industrial cooling water systems. London: Dordrecht Heidelberg.Google Scholar
  9. Carignan, V., & Villard, M. (2002). Selecting indicator species to monitor ecological integrity: a review. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 78(1), 16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Caughlan, L., & Oakley, K. L. (2001). Cost considerations for long-term ecological monitoring. Ecological Indicators, 1, 11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. CERP (2005). Central and Southern Florida Project. Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan 2005 Report to Congress. (pp. 114): U.S. Department of the Interior and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.Google Scholar
  12. CERP (2010). Central and Southern Florida Project. Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan 2005 Report to Congress. (pp. 47): U.S. Department of the Interior and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.Google Scholar
  13. Champley, S., Ekstrom, C., Dalgaard, P., Gill, J., & De Rosario, H. (2015). Basic functions for power analysis: package “pwr” Version 1.1-2. (R package). <>
  14. Chen, X., Gao, H., Yao, X., Fang, H., Chen, Z., & Xu, Z. (2010). Ecosystem-based assessment indices of restoration for Daya Bay near a nuclear power plant in South China. Environmental Science and Technology, 44, 6.Google Scholar
  15. Clark, J., & Brownell, W. (1973). Electric power plants in the coastal zone: environmental issues. Special Publication (Vol. No. 7): American Littoral Society.Google Scholar
  16. Dolan, T. E. (2012). A case study of Turkey point nuclear generating station: perception and power in environmental assessment. Miami: University of Miami.Google Scholar
  17. Dzul, M. C., Dixon, P. M., Quist, M. C., Dinsmore, S. J., Bower, M. R., Wilson, K. P., & Bailey Gaines, D. (2012). Using variance components to estimate power in a hierarchically nested sampling design: improving monitoring of larval Devils Hole pupfish. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment. doi: 10.1007/s10661-012-2562-8.Google Scholar
  18. Ecological Associates Inc. (2009). Species and relative abundances of fish and shellfish in the vicinity of Turkey Point Plant based on recent collections (p. 27). Jensen Beach: Ecological Associates Inc.Google Scholar
  19. Fairweather, P. G. (1991). Statistical power and design requirements for environmental monitoring. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 42, 12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Faunce, C. H., & Serafy, J. E. (2006). Mangroves as fish habitat: 50 years of field studies. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 318, 18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Faunce, C. H., & Serafy, J. E. (2007). Nearshore habitat use by gray snapper (Lutjanus griseus) and bluestriped grunt (Haemulon sciurus): environmental gradients and ontogenetic shifts. Bulletin of Marine Science, 80(3), 17.Google Scholar
  22. Faunce, C. H., & Serafy, J. E. (2008). Growth and secondary production of an eventual reef fish during mangrove residency. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 79, 7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Faunce, C. H., Serafy, J. E., & Lorenz, J. J. (2004). Density-habitat relationships of mangrove creek fishes within the southeastern saline Everglades (USA), with reference to managed freshwater releases. Wetlands Ecology and Management, 12, 17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Field, S. A., Tyre, A. J., Jonzén, N., Rhodes, J. R., & Possingham, H. (2004). Minimizing the cost of environmental management decisions by optimizing statistical thresholds. Ecology Letters, 7, 669–675.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Florida Power and Light Company (2009). Site certification application, Turkey Point Units 6 & 7. June 2009.Google Scholar
  26. Florida Power and Light Company Turkey Point Plant, Units 6 & 7 Combined Operating License Application. Part 3: Environmental Report. Rev. 2. Accessed: April, 2011 <>
  27. Gamito, R., Pasquad, S., Courrat, A., Drouineau, H., Fonesca, V. F., Gonçalves, C. I., Wouters, N., Costa, J. L., Lepage, M., Costa, M. J., & Cabral, H. N. (2012). Influence of sampling effort on metrics of fish-based indices for the assessment of estuarine ecological quality. Ecological Indicators, 23, 9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Gerrodette, T. (1987). A power analysis for detecting trends. Ecology, 68, 8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Glasby, T. M., & Underwood, A. J. (1996). Sampling to differentiate between pulse and press perturbations. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 42, 11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Green, R. H. (1979). Sampling design and statistical methods for environmental biologists. New York: John Wiley and Sons.Google Scholar
  31. Green, D. P. J., Trexler, J. C., Lorenz, J. J., McIvor, C. C., & Phillipi, T. (2006). Spatial patterns of fish communities along two estuarine gradients in southern Florida. Hydrobiologia, 569, 12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Growns, I., Astles, K., & Gehrke, P. (2006). Multiscale spatial and small-scale temporal variation in the composition of riverine fish communities. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 114, 19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hammerschlag, N., Ovando, D., & Serafy, J. E. (2010). Seasonal diet and feeding habits of juvenile fishes foraging along a subtropical marine ecotone. Aquatic Biology, 9, 11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Harrigan, P., Zieman, J. C., & Macko, S. A. (1989). The base of nutritional support for the gray snapper (Lutjanus griseus): an evaluation based on a combined stomach content and stable isotope analysis. Bulletin of Marine Science, 44, 12.Google Scholar
  35. Holt, K. R., Peterman, R. M., & Cox, S. P. (2011). Trade-offs between monitoring objectives and monitoring effort when classifying regional conservation status of Pacific salmon (Oncorhyncus spp.) populations. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 68, 17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Keough, M. J., & Quinn, G. P. (1991). Causality and the choice of measurements for detecting human impacts in marine environments. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 42, 15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Kulkarni, V., Naidu, V., & Jagtap, T. (2011). Marine ecological habitat: a case study on projected thermal power plant around Dharamtar Creek, India. Journal of Environmental Biology, 32, 6.Google Scholar
  38. Lankford, T. E., & Targett, T. E. (1994). Suitability of estuarine nursery zones for juvenile weakfish (Cynoscion regalis): effects of temperature and salinity on feeding, growth and survival. Marine Biology, 119, 9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Laws, E. A. (2000). Aquatic pollution: an introductory text (3rd ed.). New York: John Wiley & Sons Inc.Google Scholar
  40. Legg, C. J., & Nagy, L. (2006). Why most conservation monitoring is, but need not be, a waste of time. Journal of Environmental Management, 78, 5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Ley, J. A., McIvor, C. C., & Montague, C. L. (1999). Fishes in mangrove prop-root habitats of northeastern Florida Bay: distinct assemblages across an estuarine gradient. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 48, 22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Light, S. S., & Dineen, J. W. (1994). Water control in the Everglades: a historical perspective. In S. M. Davis & J. C. Ogden (Eds.), Everglades: the ecosystem and its restoration (pp. 117–146). Boca Raton: St Lucie Press.Google Scholar
  43. Lin, Y. J., Fruehaur, G. L., & Desai, M. (1994). An evaluation of seasonal impacts of a mechanical draft cooling tower (pp. 1098–1101). Bechtel Power Corporation.Google Scholar
  44. Lorenz, J. J. (1999). The response of fishes to physiochemical changes in the mangroves of Northeast Florida Bay. Estuaries, 22, 17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Lorenz, J. J., & Serafy, J. E. (2006). Subtropical wetland fish assemblages and changing salinity regimes: implications for Everglades restoration. Hydrobiologia, 569, 21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Luo, J., Serafy, J. E., Sponaugle, S., Teare, P. B., & Kieckbusch, D. (2009). Movement of gray snapper Lutjanus griseus among subtropical seagrass, mangrove and coral reef habitats. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 380, 14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. McCaughran, D. A. (1977). The quality of inferences concerning the effects of nuclear power plants on the environment. In W. van Winkle (Ed.), Proceedings of the conference on assessing the effects of power plant-induced mortality on fish populations (p. 13). NY: Pergamon Press.Google Scholar
  48. McManus, L. C., Yurek, S., Teare, P. B., Dolan, T. E., & Serafy, J. E. (2014). Killifish habitat suitability as a measure of coastal restoration performance: integrating field data, behavioral trials and simulation. Ecological Indicators Special Issue: Coastal Florida EBM Tools. doi: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2014.03.006.Google Scholar
  49. Miner, R. M., & Warrick, J. W. (1974). Environmental effects of cooling systems alternatives at inland and coastal sites. Nuclear Technology, 4(25), 10.Google Scholar
  50. Nagelkerke, L. A., & Van Densen, W. L. T. (2007). Serial correlation and inter-annual variability in relation to statistical power of monitoring schemes to detect trends in fish populations. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 125, 9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Nugent, R. S. (1970). The effects of thermal effluent on some of the macrofauna of a subtropical estuary. Coral Gables: University of Miami.Google Scholar
  52. Odum, W. E. (1971). Pathways of energy flow in a south Florida estuary (Sea Grant Technical Bulletin, p. 162). Miami: FL University of Miami.Google Scholar
  53. Osenberg, C. W., Schmitt, R. J., Holbrook, S. J., Khalili, E. A., & Russell, F. (1994). Detection of environmental impacts: natural variability, effect size and power analysis. Ecological Applications, 4(1), 14.Google Scholar
  54. Pasquad, S., Courrat, A., Fonesca, V. F., Gamito, R., Gonçalves, C. I., Lobry, J., Lepage, M., Costa, M. J., & Cabral, H. (2013). Strength and time lag of relationships between human pressures and fish-based metrics used to assess the ecological quality of estuarine systems. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 134, 8.Google Scholar
  55. Peterman, R. M. (1990). Statistical power analysis can improve fisheries research and management. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 47, 14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Peterson, M. S., & Meador, M. R. (1994). Effects of salinity on freshwater fishes in coastal plain drainages in the southeastern U.S. Reviews in Fisheries Science, 2(2), 26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Pikitch, E. K., Rountos, K. J., Essington, T. E., Santora, C., Pauly, D., Watson, R., Sumaila, U. R., Boersma, P. D., Boyd, I. L., Conover, D. L., Cury, P., Heppell, S. S., Houde, E. D., Mangel, M., Plagányi, E., Sainsbury, K., Steneck, R. S., Geers, T. M., Gownaris, N., & Munch, S. B. (2014). Fish and Fisheries, 15, 21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Quist, M. C., Gerow, K. G., Bower, M. R., & Hubert, W. A. (2006). Random versus fixed-site sampling when monitoring relative abundance of fishes in headwater streams of the upper Colorado River basin. North American Journal of Fisheries Management, 26, 8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. R Core Team (2013). R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. <>
  60. Ramo, C., & Busto, B. (1993). Resource use by herons in a Yucatan wetland during the breeding season. The Wilson Bulletin, 105, 13.Google Scholar
  61. Reid, S. M., & Mandrak, N. E. (2009). Effect of diel period and season on seining effort required to detect changes in Lake Erie beach fish assemblages. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 153, 10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Reynolds, J. H., Thompson, W. L., & Russell, B. (2011). Planning for success: identifying effective and efficient survey designs for monitoring. Biological Conservation, 144(5), 6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. SAFMC (2009). Fishery ecosystem plan of the South Atlantic Region. South Atlantic Fishery Management Council. Available on-line:
  64. Sandin, L., & Johnson, R. K. (2000). The statistical power of selected indicator metrics using macroinvertebrates for assessing acidification and eutrophication of running waters. Hydrobiologia, 422/423, 10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Schmidt, T. W. (1989). Food habits, length-weight relationship and condition factor of young Great Barracuda, Sphyraena barracuda (Waldbaum), from Florida Bay, Everglades National Park, Florida. Bulletin of Marine Science, 44, 7.Google Scholar
  66. Schmitt, E., Sluka, R., & Sullivan-Sealey, K. (2002). Evaluating the use of roving diver and transect surveys to assess the coral reef fish assemblages off southeastern Hispaniola. Coral Reefs, 21, 7.Google Scholar
  67. Serafy, J. E., Lindeman, K. C., Hopkins, T. E., & Ault, J. E. (1997). Effects of freshwater canal discharge on fish assemblages in a subtropical bay: field and laboratory observations. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 160, 11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Serafy, J. E., Faunce, C. H., & Lorenz, J. J. (2003). Mangrove shoreline fishes of Biscayne Bay, Florida. Bulletin of Marine Science, 72(1), 19.Google Scholar
  69. Serafy, J. E., Luo, J., Valle, M., Faunce, C. H., Teare, B., D'Alessandro, E., & Peyer, C. (2005). Shoreline fish community visual assessment: first cumulative report. Shoreline fish community visual assessment (p. 49). Miami: NOAA/NMFS/SEFSC.Google Scholar
  70. Serafy, J. E., Valle, M., Faunce, C. H., & Luo, J. (2007). Species specific patterns of fish abundance and size along a subtropical mangrove shoreline: an application of the delta approach. Bulletin of Marine Science, 80, 15.Google Scholar
  71. Serafy, J. E., Johnson, D. A., & Teare, B. (2009). Shoreline fish community visual assessment: fifth cumulative report. CERP Monitoring and Assessment Plan Component. Miami: CERP Monitoring and Assessment Plan Component.Google Scholar
  72. Serrano, X. M., Grosell, M., & Serafy, J. E. (2010). Salinity selection and preference of the gray snapper Lutjanus griseus: field and laboratory observations. Journal of Fish Biology, 76, 16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Shrecker, G. O., WIlliams, S. L., & Shofner, F. M. (1975). Atmospheric dispersion of cooling tower blow down. In Environmental effects of cooling systems at nuclear power plants. 26–30 August, 1974. Oslo, Norway.Google Scholar
  74. Smith, E. P., Orvos, D. R., & Cairns, J., Jr. (1993). Impact assessment using the before-after-control-impact (BACI) model: concerns and comments. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 50, 10.Google Scholar
  75. Stark, W. E., II. (1970). Biology of the gray snapper, Lutjanus griseus (Linnaeus), in the Florida Keys. In W. E. Stark II & R. E. Schroeder (Eds.), Investigations on the gray snapper, Lutjanus griseus (pp. 11–150). Coral Gables: University of Miami Press.Google Scholar
  76. State of Florida Department of Environmental Protection (2014). Conditions of certification. Florida Power & Light Company Turkey Point Plant Units 6 & 7. May 19, 2014. 193pp.Google Scholar
  77. Stewart-Oaten, A., & Bence, J. R. (2001). Temporal and spatial variation in environmental impact assessment. Ecological Monographs, 71, 34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Stewart-Oaten, A., Murdoch, W. M., & Parker, K. R. (1986). Environmental impact assessment: 'pseudoreplication' in time? Ecology, 67, 11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Talbot, J. J. (1979). A review of potential biological impacts of cooling tower salt drift. Atmospheric Environment, 13, 10.Google Scholar
  80. Thayer, G. W., Colby, D. R., & Hettler, W. F., II. (1987). Utilization of the red mangrove prop root habitat by fishes in south Florida. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 35, 13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Thorhaug, A., & Roessler, M. A. (1977). Seagrass community dynamics in a subtropical estuarine lagoon. Aquaculture, 12, 24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Thorhaug, A., Roessler, M. A., Bach, S. D., Hixon, R., Brook, I. M., & Josselyn, M. N. (1979). Biological effects of power-plant thermal effluents in Card Sound, Florida. Environmental Conservation, 6(2), 10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (2015). Draft environmental impact statement for combined licenses for Turkey Point Nuclear Plan Units 6 and 7, Draft Report for comment. Available on-line at:
  84. Underwood, A. J., & Chapman, M. G. (2003). Power, precaution, type II error and sampling design in assessment of environmental impacts. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 296, 22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Van Wynsberge, S., Gilbert, A., Guillemot, N., Payri, C., & Andréfoët, S. (2013). Alert thresholds for monitoring environmental variables: a new approach applied to seagrass beds diversity in New Caledonia. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 77, 7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Villéger, S., Miranda, J. R., Hernandez, D. F., & Mouillot, D. (2012). Low functional β-diversity despite high taxonomic β-diversity among tropical estuarine fish communities. Plos One, 7(7), 10. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0040679.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric ScienceUniversity of MiamiMiamiUSA
  2. 2.School of Marine and Atmospheric SciencesStony Brook UniversityStony BrookUSA
  3. 3.Office of Science and TechnologyNational Marine Fisheries ServiceSilver SpringUSA
  4. 4.Southeast Regional OfficeNational Marine Fisheries ServiceWest Palm BeachUSA
  5. 5.Southeast Fisheries Science CenterNational Marine Fisheries ServiceMiamiUSA

Personalised recommendations