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Recent trends in seagrass distributions in southwest Florida coastal waters
Kurz, R.; Tomasko, D.A.; Burdick, D.; Ries, T.F.; Patterson, K.; Finck, R. (2000). Recent trends in seagrass distributions in southwest Florida coastal waters, in: Bortone, S.A. (Ed.) Seagrasses: monitoring, ecology, physiology, and management. pp. 157-166
In: Bortone, S.A. (Ed.) (2000). Seagrasses: monitoring, ecology, physiology, and management. CRC Marine Science Series, 16. CRC Press: Boca Raton. ISBN 0-8493-2045-3. 318 pp., more
In: Kennish, M.J.; Lutz, P.L. (Ed.) CRC Marine Science Series., more

Available in Authors 
    VLIZ: Botany [8762]

Keyword
    Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Kurz, R.
  • Tomasko, D.A.
  • Burdick, D.
  • Ries, T.F.
  • Patterson, K.
  • Finck, R.

Abstract
    In southwest Florida, significant declines in historical seagrass populations have been observed. Specifically, as much as 80% of the seagrass beds in Tampa Bay have been lost since the late 1800s as a result of dredging, pollution, and reduced water clarity. Historical seagrass losses have also been documented in other coastal areas such as Charlotte Harbor and Sarasota Bay. This study was initiated to assess temporal and spatial changes in seagrass coverage in these estuaries and to monitor the effects of improvements in water quality on seagrass bed expansion. Using 1:24,000 scale aerial color photography, seagrass distributions were photointerpreted and transferred to a geographical information system (GIS) database for analysis. Based on trend analysis of the data, Tampa Bay and Sarasota Bay have experienced consistent, measurable gains in seagrass coverage since 1988. Seagrass coverage in Tampa Bay has increased an average of 2% per year between 1988 and 1996. A remarkable 7% increase in seagrass coverage was observed between 1988 and 1994 in Sarasota Bay followed by an 11% increase between 1994 and 1996. In Charlotte Harbor, a small decline in seagrass coverage occurred between 1982 and 1992; however, a 2% average annual increase has been observed between 1992 and 1996. Observed increases in seagrass coverage in Tampa Bay and Sarasota Bay are believed to be directly linked to improving water quality and light penetration resulting from reductions in pointsource pollutant loads. The timing and duration of riverine inflow, nutrient loading, and changes in water color can affect light penetration in Charlotte Harbor. The relationships between these factors and seagrass productivity appear to be more complex than in Tampa Bay and Sarasota Bay. Further data collection will be necessary to associate water quality trends with seagrass community dynamics in this estuary.

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