Christopher D. Stallings, Alejandra Mickle, James A. Nelson, Michael G. McManus, and Christopher C. Koenig. 2015. Faunal communities and habitat characteristics of the Big Bend seagrass meadows, 20092010. Ecology 96:304. http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/14-1345.1


Data Paper

Ecological Archives E096-030-D1.

Copyright


Authors
Data Files
Abstract
Metadata


Author(s)

Christopher D. Stallings
Coastal and Marine Laboratory
Florida State University
St. Teresa, Florida 32358
E-mail: stallings@usf.edu
and
College of Marine Science
University of South Florida
St. Petersburg, Florida 33701

Alejandra Mickle
Coastal and Marine Laboratory
Florida State University
St. Teresa, Florida 32358
and
Department of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences
Florida State University
Tallahassee, Florida 32306

James A. Nelson
Department of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences
Florida State University
Tallahassee, Florida 32306
and
Ecosystems Center
Marine Biological Laboratory
Woods Hole, Massachusetts 02543

Michael G. McManus
The Nature Conservancy
Tallahassee, Florida 32301
and
Office of Research and Development
National Center for Environmental Assessment
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Cincinnati, Ohio 45268

Christopher C. Koenig
Coastal and Marine Laboratory
Florida State University
St. Teresa, Florida 32358


Data Files

BBSG_2009-2010.zip (MD5: e92d229e6d070ee28aac914c875542c2)

bigbend_grass.zip (MD5: 30c07113faac237e2c199c3d637d92be)


Abstract

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 compromising 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 intact and least disturbed. 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 two-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 was sampled, and all animals were identified to lowest taxonomic level possible, counted, and their sizes measured. Habitat characteristics were concurrently measured at both local (e.g., seagrass areal coverage and composition, volume of drift algae) and regional scales (e.g., latitude, type of adjacent coastal habitat).

Key words: beam trawl; Geographic Information Systems; habitat heterogeneity; seagrass; seascape ecology; secondary productivity; spatially-balanced sampling; submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV).