Changes in seagrass species composition in Northwestern Gulf of Mexico estuaries: Effects on associated seagrass fauna




Smee, Delbert L.
Ray, Brandon R.
Johnson, Matthew W.
Cammarata, Kirk


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Plos One


The objective of this study was to measure the communities associated with different seagrass species to predict how shifts in seagrass species composition may affect associated fauna. In the northwestern Gulf of Mexico, coverage of the historically dominant shoal grass (Halodule wrightii) is decreasing, while coverage of manatee grass (Syringodium filiforme) and turtle grass (Thalassia testudinum) is increasing. We conducted a survey of fishes, crabs, and shrimp in monospecific beds of shoal, manatee, and turtle grass habitats of South Texas, USA to assess how changes in sea grass species composition would affect associated fauna. We measured seagrass parameters including shoot density, above ground biomass, epiphyte type, and epiphyte abundance to investigate relationships between faunal abundance and these seagrass parameters. We observed significant differences in communities among three seagrass species, even though these organisms are highly motile and could easily travel among the different seagrasses. Results showed species specific relationships among several different characteristics of the seagrass community and individual species abundance. More work is needed to discern the drivers of the complex relationships between individual seagrass species and their associated fauna.



mexico, gulf of mexico, estuary, seagrass, life sciences



Attribution 4.0 International


Ray, B.R., Johnson, M.W., Cammarata, K. and Smee, D.L., 2014. Changes in seagrass species composition in northwestern Gulf of Mexico estuaries: effects on associated seagrass fauna. PloS one, 9(9), p.e107751.