Type of Presentation

Oral

Session Title

The Role of Eelgrass Ecosystems in the Salish Sea

Description

Seagrass ecosystems are highly valued for the provision of nursery and refugia habitat for commercially-important fishes, but are heavily impacted by human disturbance. The loss of such habitat has fueled monitoring efforts across the coast of British Columbia, though to-date many of these organizations have worked independently and been restricted to local-scale inferences. We are creating a network that will conduct a coast-wide fish monitoring effort in Summer 2016; the network connects eelgrass experts and ecologists from academic, governmental, First Nations, and non-governmental organizations, and the planned monitoring currently spans 9 regions across BC’s coast. Our objective is to collectively analyze existing and newly collected data to determine changes in biodiversity and community structure of fishes in eelgrass habitats along environmental and human disturbance gradients. In particular, we will assess whether human impacts have led to homogenization of fish diversity across regions, an indicator of reduced resilience to further disturbance. This collaborative effort will develop the most spatio-temporally comprehensive assessment of eelgrass biodiversity to-date, fostering a network for long-term monitoring and aiding in the prioritization of marine management.

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Establishing a BC eelgrass monitoring network for assessment of fish diversity along environmental and human disturbance gradients

2016SSEC

Seagrass ecosystems are highly valued for the provision of nursery and refugia habitat for commercially-important fishes, but are heavily impacted by human disturbance. The loss of such habitat has fueled monitoring efforts across the coast of British Columbia, though to-date many of these organizations have worked independently and been restricted to local-scale inferences. We are creating a network that will conduct a coast-wide fish monitoring effort in Summer 2016; the network connects eelgrass experts and ecologists from academic, governmental, First Nations, and non-governmental organizations, and the planned monitoring currently spans 9 regions across BC’s coast. Our objective is to collectively analyze existing and newly collected data to determine changes in biodiversity and community structure of fishes in eelgrass habitats along environmental and human disturbance gradients. In particular, we will assess whether human impacts have led to homogenization of fish diversity across regions, an indicator of reduced resilience to further disturbance. This collaborative effort will develop the most spatio-temporally comprehensive assessment of eelgrass biodiversity to-date, fostering a network for long-term monitoring and aiding in the prioritization of marine management.