Faunal communities of the Big Bend seagrass meadows
   Christopher Stallings, Florida State University Coastal and Marine Labora

Abstract: The Objectives of this project are to spatially characterize the communities of fish and macro-invertebrates across the Big Bend region and identify subregions of different seagrass habitat and animal communities. Also to Elucidate important variables that contribute to differences identified. Although considerable work has been conducted to understand associations of animals with seagrass habitats, most efforts have been restricted to relatively small spatial scales. Inference on such studies is therefore limited since both habitats and faunal communities are likely be spatially heterogeneous. Our proposed research will fill a fundamentally important gap in our knowledge about the faunal communities in seagrass meadows across the entire Big Bend region. This work will produce GIS-based habitat maps of the region and will elucidate key factors that structure the faunal communities. Such products will be useful for future research and predictive tools, and may highlight conservation "hotspots" that require greater protection and/ or restoration. We will use a two-step approach to characterize the faunal communities in seagrass meadows across the Big Bend region. In the first step, we will use a systematic, uniform sampling protocol to maximize spatial coverage. The data collected from the first step will be incorporated into a GIS framework to identify subregions within the Big Bend seagrass meadows. In the second step, we will sample within the subregions using a random clustering protocol to increase spatial resolution. We will sample the faunal communities using standard trawling methods similar to those used by FWC. To evaluate the factors that may contribute to the structuring of faunal communities, we will measure several fine- and broad-scale environmental parameters. The relationships between these parameters and the faunal communities will be analyzed using standard multivariate approaches.

Award Matching Funds Total
$55,802.00 $55,802.00 $111,604.00

Year Funded Starting Date Ending Date
2007 7/1/2008 5/15/2011

Location: Citrus, Dixie, Hernando, Levy, Pasco, Pinellas, Taylor and Wakulla Counties