Occurrence and Variation in Submersed Aquatic Vegetation (SAV) Along the Northern Gulf of Mexico: A Hierarchical Approach to Assess Impacts of Environmental Change on SAV Resources
Submersed aquatic vegetation (SAV) communities are highly productive ecosystems that provide significant ecological benefits to coastal areas. Despite their critical importance, and their global decline, the scientific community lacks consistent baseline data on SAV resources across the gradient from fresh to brackish (slightly salty) to saltwater. This project will 1) provide data on the occurrence and abundance of SAV (e.g., coverage, composition, seed resources) within the northern Gulf of Mexico, 2) quantitatively assess environmental factors affecting its variation across space and time, and 3) develop a conceptual model of factors influencing SAV resources. These data are critical in identifying numerical relationships between SAV resources and environmental variables, and will enable predictive modeling of SAV resources under different scenarios of landscape and climate change. This work will contribute to the refinement of existing models of ecosystem change and directly benefit efforts to forecast the effects of climate change on distribution, abundance, and diversity of SAV resources and the priority fish and wildlife populations that depend upon them.
Developing this science is a priority for the Gulf Coast Prairie Landscape Conservation Cooperative, as well as the South Central Climate Science, which provided significant support for this research. The project involves compiling consistent baseline data on the occurrence and abundance of submersed aquatic vegetation along the northern Gulf of Mexico. It also involves assessing and developing a conceptual model of environmental factors affecting vegetation variation. These data will enable predictive modeling of vegetation under different scenarios of landscape and climate change and contribute to the refinement of existing models of ecosystem change.
Publications from this project:
- Publication: Analysis of Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Resources across the Northern Gulf of Mexico: Communities and Biomass (2018) (open-access, attached below)
- Publication: Shifting Niche Space in Coastal Landscapes: Spatio-temporal Patterns Driving Submerged Aquatic Vegetation across the Northern Gulf of Mexico (2018) (open-access, attached below)
Datasets from this project:
- Dataset: Sediment carbon, submerged aquatic vegetation and environmental variables in deltaic southeast Louisiana (2015-2016) (open-access)
- Dataset: Seed biomass from shallow coastal water areas along a salinity gradient in Barataria Bay, Louisiana (2015) dataset (open-access)
- Dataset: Submerged aquatic vegetation and environmental data along a salinity gradient in Barataria Bay, Louisiana (2015) (open-access)
- Dataset: Seed biomass from shallow coastal water areas from Texas through Alabama (2013-2015) (open-access)
- Dataset: Submerged aquatic vegetation and environmental data for coastal areas from Texas through Alabama (2013-2015) (open-access)