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The following schedule is subject to change (as of October 11, 2016). Please check back for updates. For more information about this meeting, go to: www.seafwa.org/conferences/2016
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Tuesday, October 18 • 4:00pm - 4:20pm
S4. Potential impacts of changing environmental conditions on overall submerged aquatic vegetation resources: Food and habitat availability for dependent fish and wildlife

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AUTHORS: MK La Peyre, U.S. Geological Survey, Louisiana Fish and Wildlife Cooperative Research Unit, School of Renewable Natural Resources, LSU AGCenter; ER Hillmann; KE DeMarco; JA Nyman, School of Renewable Natural Resources, LSU AgCenter; B Couvillion, U.S. Geological Survey, Wetland and Aquatic Resources Center; S Brown, Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, Baton Rouge, LA

ABSTRACT: Across the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico, wetlands and shallow water habitats provide valuable food and habitat for fish and wildlife. Specifically, submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) habitat is preferentially occupied by many species as compared to adjacent habitats, as SAV beds provide cover and high quality nutrition. Predictions of changing coastal conditions in this area include increased water levels, altered salinities, and higher temperatures, potentially affecting the distribution, characteristics and relative availability of coastal habitats, including areas supporting SAV. Currently, aquatic habitat suitable to support SAV occupies approximately 7% of these coastal areas, and provides ecosystem services including food and habitat provision. Using inter and intra annual sampling of SAV and environmental variables, we examined SAV resources (presence, percent cover, species, biomass) in relation to discrete and integrated environmental data. Despite differences in mean salinities and water depths across marsh types, the overall abundance of SAV resources remained stable from 2013-2015 although spatial distribution and SAV species assemblages and biomass differed. SAV was most abundant and diverse in fresher habitats, indicating that if freshwater habitats expand, SAV resources may increase. Significant reductions in SAV resources only occurred in saline areas, suggesting that fresh through brackish SAV habitats may provide similar resources. A possible threshold for SAV resources exists related to higher salinities and associated landscape variables such as exposure and water depth. Determining how changes in coastal conditions will impact SAV provides critical data to help manage coastal habitats and understand fish and wildlife carrying capacities.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 4:00pm - 4:20pm
Louisiana Room

Attendees (2)