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SEAGRASS DISTRIBUTION IN THE PENSACOLA BAY SYSTEM, NORTHWEST FLORIDA
LEWIS, M. A., R. DEVEREUX, AND P. BOURGEOIS. SEAGRASS DISTRIBUTION IN THE PENSACOLA BAY SYSTEM, NORTHWEST FLORIDA. GULF AND CARIBBEAN RESEARCH. Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, Ocean Springs, MS, 20(March):21-28, (2008).
To summarize the results of the 2003 aerial surveys of seagrass coverage of the Pensacola Bay System and to compare the results primarily to those for the previous survey conducted during 1992.
Seagrass coverage in the northern Gulf of Mexico has decreased 20 to 100% in many estuaries since the 1950s. As a result, determination of seagrass coverage and identification of the cause(s) of declines are priority research issues. Aerial surveys of seagrass coverage in the Pensacola Bay system (PBS) were conducted during 1960, 1980, 1992, and 2003. This report summarizes the results for the 2003 survey, compares the results to those for 1992 survey and summarizes habitat quality for the PBS reported between the two surveys. Approximately, 1654 hectares of seagrass meadows existed in the PBS during 2003 which was approximately 9% less than in 1992. Continuous and patchy coverages ranged from 0 to 684 hectares and 11 to 543 hectares for five PBS subsystems, respectively. The majority of seagrass coverage occurred in Santa Rosa Cound (74%) and Big Lagoon (13%). Reduction in total coverage occurred for East Bay (93%)and Escambia Bay (75%). Increases were observed for Pensacola Bay (32%) and Santa Rosa Sound (8%). The changes in seagrass coverages were likely due to a combination of naturally occurring and anthropogenic factors. However, it is not possible to differentiate the relative contributions of these factors on seagrass distribution and condition in the PBS due to lack of data. The ability of the endangered seagrass meadows to exist long-term in the PBS is uncertain due to increasing urbanization of the watershed and the accompanying adverse effects on shoreline geomorphology and on near-shore chemical quality. Active resource management and the availability of relevant water and sediment quality criteria are needed to prevent future deterioration.
Record Details:Record Type: DOCUMENT (JOURNAL/PEER REVIEWED JOURNAL)
Organization:U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
NATIONAL HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS RESEARCH LABORATORY
GULF ECOLOGY DIVISION
ECOSYSTEM ASSESSMENT BRANCH