Abstracts

Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Communities of Mississippi Coastal River Systems

Author(s): Garner, J.; Cho, H.; Biber, P.

Coastal submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) abundance has declined globally due to the cumulative effects of habitat alteration and declines in coastal environment quality. There are several water quality/environmental models for seagrass/SAV habitat requirements; these models were developed based on long-term monitoring data. Application of those models by resource managers also requires extensive/consistent water quality monitoring data, hence, limiting their usages to the areas with well monitored habitats. It is necessary to develop habitat indices that can be widely used to predict SAV type/distribution in varying locations and habitat/basin types. In order to develop a Habitat Suitability Index (HSI) for SAV via a decision-tree algorithm approach that utilizes landscape properties, SAV communities of shallow waters in channels, adjoining bayous, streams, inlets, and lagoons of the Pascagoula River, Back Bay of Biloxi, St. Louis Bay, and Pearl River systems of coastal Mississippi were surveyed from May 2008 to Jun 2010. The location and species of SAV and the nearby floating aquatic and shore emergent plants were recorded. The survey extended from the river mouth to upstream areas where stream width became narrow and shade from tall trees on the shore restricted SAV growth. Survey methods included raking from a boat and wading in the water, after SAV were observed to occur in a given location. In addition to SAV species and bed location, dominant shore vegetation and GPS coordinates were recorded using a Trimble™ GeoXH handheld GPS unit and TerraSync™ software. After we develop a tree-based algorithm for the index, its validation will be assessed using a separate set of field data. Application of the index will not be restricted to the well-protected and monitored areas because the index will use geographic, topographic, and shore vegetation parameters. The resultant HSI can be used to visualize potential SAV bed locations and to predict how coastal landscape alteration would affect their distribution and abundance.

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Technical Sessions

Session I Sedimentation
Session II Weather/Climate
Session III Coastal Resources
Session IV Surface Water Management
Session V Wetlands
Session VI Education
Session VII Management/Planning
Session VIII Wetlands
Session IX Delta Groundwater
Session X Nutrients
Session XI Delta Water Resources
Session XII Ports

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