Durako, M. J.. The University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Center for Marine Science Research, durakom@uncwil.edu
Paxson, J. J.. The University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Center for Marine Science Research, paxsonj@uncwil.edu
Hall, M. O.. Florida Marine Research Institute, Florida Dept. Environmental Protection, hall_p@peic7.dep.state.fl.us
Merello, M. Florida Marine research Institute, Florida Dept. Environmental Protection, merello_m@epic7.dep.state.fl.us

 
SYSTEMS-LEVEL CHANGES IN FLORIDA BAY SEAGRASS COMMUNITY STRUCTURE
 
The seagrass communities of Florida Bay have continued to exhibit dramatic changes in distribution and abundance following the onset of seagrass die-off in the late 1980's. Analyses of seagrass cover/abundance changes in ten basins within Florida Bay indicate that Thalassia testudinum is still the dominant seagrass at the Bay-scale. However, the abundance of this species has declined significantly in basins along the western margin of the Bay and the area without Thalassia has exhibited a small, but steady increase. In spring 1997, Halodule wrightii, replaced Thalassia as the most abundant seagrass in Johnson Key Basin. During spring 1995, 39% (107.1 km2) of the area of the ten sampled basins was without Halodule; the zero-abundance area for Halodule has dropped by more than half over the last 3 years and Bay-wide abundance has doubled. The recent losses of Thalassia have corresponded with areas where turbidity has been most persistent and the losses may be the result of light-stress induced mortality, in addition to die-off. Increases in the distribution and abundance of Halodule wrightii (Shoal grass) and the recent appearance and spread of Halophila engelmannii in western Florida Bay, further indicate a change to a shade-adapted seagrass community.
 
Day: Thursday, Feb. 4
Time: 02:15 - 02:30pm
Location: Eldorado Hotel
 
Code: SS52TH0215E