Ecological Effects of Harmful Algal Blooms on the Wildlife Communities Associated with Submerged Aquatic Vegetation
   Damon Gannon, Mote Marine Laboratory

Abstract: Seagrass habitats are highly productive and ecologically rich areas for estuarine fish and bird species. Among all the sources of stress to seagrass habitats, harmful algal blooms (HABs) are ranked in the highest category. HABs are a source of ecological disturbance that are thought to alter water quality (physical and chemical), species composition, and patterns of primary productivity in seagrass meadows. This project is investigating the extent to which red tide affects the local abundance and habitat use of individual species, and composition of the fish and avian communities utilizing submerged aquatic vegetation habitats in Sarasota Bay. Data are obtained by conducting seasonal surveys of (1) fishes, (2) birds, (3) K. brevis cell counts, and (4) water quality (dissolved oxygen, salinity, temperature, turbidity) during red tide and non-red tide conditions. Surveys conducted in the summers of 2006 and 2007 and in the winter of 2006/2007 have been completed and preliminary data analyses have been performed. Abundance and diversity of fishes associated with the seagrass community rebounded following the major red tide disturbances of 2005 and 2006. This report marks the half-way point of this three-year project. Thus, results are preliminary. However, much progress has been made and we are confident that our proposed methods will allow us to test all of the hypotheses outlined in the grant application.

Award Matching Funds Total
$130,148.00 $43,383.00 $173,531.00

Year Funded Starting Date Ending Date
2005 7/1/2006 6/30/2009

Location: Manatee and Sarasota Counties

Final report