Evidence of Positive Associations between Intertidal Shoreline and Subtidal Seagrass Communities in a Subtropical Ecotone

Friday, February 16, 2024 noon to 2 p.m.

Fringing seagrass beds are important components of coastal ecotones. Their association with shoreline morphology and shoreline restoration, however, is poorly understood. We combined GIS analyses with field-based monitoring to better understand intra-ecotone associations between shorelines and fringing seagrass beds. Using GIS analyses of aerial imagery, shoreline characterization models, and seagrass coverage models, the relationship between shoreline morphology, erosion, and fringing seagrass persistence was examined in Mosquito Lagoon, FL between 2011 and 2021. For the field-based portion of the study, fringing seagrass beds growing adjacent to restored, living shoreline segments were monitored throughout the 2023 growing season (March – November). All shorelines had been stabilized 2-3 years prior. Nearby, uneroded shoreline segments served as positive controls. The geospatial portion of the study found that yearly seagrass persistence was correlated with shallow subtidal slope angles and decreased rates of erosion. Field-monitoring found seagrass (primarily Halodule wrightii), growing adjacent to all sites, although shoot density was significantly greater at control sites. The site with the greatest shoot density also had the shallowest subtidal slope angle; this validates the models from the geospatial portion of the study. Broadly, this study illustrates interconnection between intertidal and subtidal components of a coastal ecotone.

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Denise Montenegro Denise.Montenegro@ucf.edu


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