A New Dimensionless Index for Structural Habitat Complexity

EPA Grant Number: U915334
Title: A New Dimensionless Index for Structural Habitat Complexity
Investigators: Bartholomew, Aaron
Institution: Virginia Institute of Marine Science
EPA Project Officer: Broadway, Virginia
Project Period: September 1, 1998 through September 1, 2001
Project Amount: $89,518
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (1998) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , Fellowship - Ecology and Ecosystems


The objective of this research project is to develop a dimensionless index of structural habitat complexity that incorporates the size of the spaces within the habitat and the size of the organism of interest. The index is the average interstructural space size in the habitat divided by the linear measure of the organism that would potentially limit its ability to move through the space (Sp/Pr).


I repeatedly deployed five types of artificial seagrass plots in a seagrass bed. After 1 week, I collected the plots and counted, identified, and measured the mobile fauna that had colonized the plots. The analyses were conducted using a control plot with no artificial seagrass, a treatment with 3.5 mm space sizes (high cover), a treatment with 9.5 mm space sizes (medium cover), a treatment with 22 mm space sizes (low cover), and a treatment with one-third of each space size (heterogeneous/medium cover overall). I grouped the fauna into three categories: 0-3.5 mm wide, 3.5-9.5 mm wide, and 9.5-22 mm wide (> 22 mm wide was rare).

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, habitat complexity, seagrass, fauna., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Ecology, Ecosystem/Assessment/Indicators, Ecosystem Protection, exploratory research environmental biology, wildlife, Ecological Effects - Environmental Exposure & Risk, Habitat, Ecology and Ecosystems, Biology, Ecological Indicators, marine ecosystem, predicting bioenvironments, terrestrial ecosystems, habitat parameters, complex habitats, ecological assessment, predator/prey interactions, ecological research, freshwater ecosystem, prey survivorship