Title

Habitat Characterization for Submerged and Floating-Leaved Aquatic Vegetation In Coastal River Deltas of Mississippi and Alabama

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Winter 1-1-2016

Department

Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory

School

Ocean Science and Engineering

Abstract

Habitat attributes of submerged aquatic vegetation and floating-leaved aquatic vegetation were analyzed from survey data collected in estuaries and coastal river systems of Mississippi and Mobile Bay, Alabama. The objectives were to: locate aquatic plant beds along tidally influendced areas and characterize landscape parameters of the sites; group the plant species into a manageable number of longical clusters; and characterize the landscape attributes indicative of the plant communities through Classification and Regression Tree (CART) analysis. Based on the cluster analyses, aquatic vegetation was categorized into three groups: (1) downstream estuarine/saline group, (2) brackish tolerant freshwater species group, and (3) upstream freshwater only group. Landscape features used for habitat characterization and plant classification were defined by long-term environmental conditions which would shape plant communities, rather than water quality parameters, such as water transparency and salinity, that exhibit higher variability and reflect the discrete conditions at time of sampling. The CART results suggest that salinity and "energy" (relative exposure to waves/currents) are the two most important abiotic factors that structure plant communities in the river deltas studied.

Publication Title

Southeastern Geographer

Volume

56

Issue

4

First Page

454

Last Page

472

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