Seagrass Monitoring at St. Joseph Bay Aquatic Preserve
Management activities at St. Joseph Bay Aquatic Preserve have been discontinued as of July 1,
2011. This page describes one of the former ecosystem science programs which will be restarted should revenue streams improve.
Seagrass communities are considered to be the most productive ecosystems in the world. They provide a
protected nursery and foraging area for many marine species, and their root system aids in water clarity.
They also serve as indicator species because they are very sensitive to changes in water quality. In St.
Joseph Bay, one-sixth of the bay bottom is seagrass meadows. Monitoring these habitats is the best way to
determine the overall health of the aquatic environment.
As human populations concentrate along coastlines, impacts to seagrass habitats increase.
Nutrient loading from runoff, increased turbidity and phytoplankton blooms, and increased boat
traffic and vessel impacts such as propeller scarring can harm seagrass health.
The preserve monitored 16 seagrass sites
within the bay twice a year, at the beginning and end of the growing season. The goals of the
project were to:
- determine seagrass distribution and abundance,
- determine trends in seagrass conditions,
- determine the health of beds through water quality monitoring data, and
- compare current seagrass maps to historical maps.
The seagrass data was analyzed to determine trends and supplied valuable information
about the dominant species in the bay as well as the conditions at which these species thrive.
Further data analysis, together with hyperspectral mapping, advanced GPS technology, and
biological and water quality monitoring efforts was planned
in order to give an excellent overview of the current
health of the seagrass community in St. Joseph Bay.
More information on the Seagrass Monitoring Program
at St. Joseph Bay Aquatic Preserve is available in the
St. Joseph Bay Aquatic Preserve Management Plan.
Monitoring Sites (PDF - 810 KB)
April 06, 2015
3900 Commonwealth Boulevard M.S. 235
Tallahassee, Florida 32399
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