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Faunal communities and habitat characteristics of the Big Bend seagrass meadows, 2009-2010.
Stallings, C., A. Mickle, J. Nelson, M. McManus, AND C. Koenig. Faunal communities and habitat characteristics of the Big Bend seagrass meadows, 2009-2010. Edition 1, Donald R. Strong (ed.), ECOLOGY. Ecological Society of America, Ithaca, NY, 96(1):304, (2015).
We are submitting a data paper to the journal Ecology so that other scientists can use these data. We present a data set collected on the habitats and associated macrofauna from seagrass meadows in the Big Bend. To date, these data represent the most spatially- and taxonomically-extensive information for seagrass habitats in the region. Our efforts can help to address a number of research objectives involving species-habitat relationships and biodiversity metrics across a large, relatively pristine coastal habitat in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico.
Seagrass meadows are important habitats that serve as nursery, feeding, and sheltering grounds for many marine species. In addition to the ecosystem functions and services they provide, seagrass habitats and associated fauna are commonly observed to have naturally high levels of heterogeneity, making them ideal for the study of ecological patterns and processes across multiple spatial scales. However, seagrass systems worldwide have undergone sharp declines in coverage and increased levels of fragmentation at both local and regional spatial scales, thus comprising their ecological functions and services and reducing their value as unaltered marine systems in which to conduct ecological studies. Covering nearly 3000 km2, the seagrass meadows of the Big Bend region in the eastern Gulf of Mexico represents one of the largest in the world, and given its separation from human population centers and coastal development, is also considered to be one of the most pristine. The objective of our study was to provide the first region-wide characterization of the habitats and faunal communities in seagrass meadows of the Big Bend. This 2-year study occurred in 2009 and 2010 during the summers when peak productivity in seagrass systems is highest. Sites were selected using a spatially-balanced approach and sampling was conducted with beam trawls. A total of 170 sites were sampled and all animals were identified to lowest taxonomic level possible, counted and their sizes measured. A suite of local- (e.g., seagrass cover and composition, volume of drift algae) and regional-scale (e.g., latitude, depth) habitat characteristics were concurrently measured.
Record Details:Record Type: DOCUMENT (JOURNAL/PEER REVIEWED JOURNAL)
Organization:U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
NATIONAL CENTER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT