Seagrasses in the Mississippi and Chandeleur Sounds and Problems Associated With Decadal-Scale Change Detection
Seagrass mapping data from a multitude of previous projects in the Mississippi and Chandeleur sounds were gathered and combined to provide information on seagrass change from 1940 to 2011. Seagrasses generally occur in three groups: (1) along the Mississippi mainland coastline dominated by Ruppia maritima, (2) on the north side of Mississippi Sound barrier islands dominated by Halodule wrightii, and (3) on the west side of the Chandeleur Islands dominated by Thalassia testudinum co-occurring with other seagrass species. The study area generally lost seagrasses over the 71-yr period, ostensibly due to loss or reduction of protective island barriers and reductions in water quality. An example of how the time series of maps generated in this project can be utilized to further investigate seagrass change was demonstrated with data from Horn Island, including problems associated with calculating change in seagrass area using data from previous investigations. Comparisons of seagrass area among various studies that used different mapping methods (seagrass extent vs. seagrass coverage vs. vegetated seagrass area) can result in overestimation of area change and misleading conclusions.