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Welcome to the technical sessions schedule for the 2015 SEAFWA Annual Meeting.

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Tuesday, November 3 • 11:00am - 11:20am
Predicted Effects of Climate Change will Change the Spatial Distribution of Dominant SAV Biomass Resources in Shallow, Estuarine Waters Along the Northern Gulf of Mexico

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Eva R. Hillmann, Kristin Elise DeMarco –Louisiana State University Agricultural Center; Megan La Peyre, U.S. Geological Survey, Louisiana Fish and Wildlife Cooperative Research Unit, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center

Coastal ecosystems are dynamic and productive but vulnerable to changes associated with global climate change. Despite their limited areal extent, submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) exists in coastal ecosystems as foundation species and performs important ecological functions including provision of habitat and food resources. Yet, the limited understanding of factors controlling SAV distribution and abundance within the extensive fresh to saline coastal habitats along the northern Gulf of Mexico (nGoM) restricts the ability of models to accurately predict resource availability. We sampled 384 potential coastal SAV sites across the nGoM in 2013 and 2014, and examined community and species-specific SAV distribution and biomass in relation to year, salinity, turbidity and water depth. After two years of sampling, 13 species of SAV were documented, with three species (Ceratophyllum demersum, Myriophyllum spicatum, Ruppia maritima) accounting for 54% of above-ground biomass collected. Above-ground biomass was highest in 2014 freshwater habitats as compared to all other year and habitat combinations. SAV below-ground material accounted for 19% of total biomass in fresh habitat, and over 26% of total biomass in intermediate, brackish and saline habitats. Above-ground biomass of the dominant species was partially explained by water depth, turbidity and salinity. Understanding the environmental drivers that influence SAV distribution across salinity zones, as well as the allocation of SAV biomass fractions will ultimately enable more accurate predictive modeling and management of SAV resources under different scenarios of restoration and climate change.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 11:00am - 11:20am EST

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