Type of Presentation

Poster

Session Title

The Role of Eelgrass Ecosystems in the Salish Sea

Description

Eelgrass (Zostera marina) ecosystems are found throughout the coast of the Salish Sea. Z. marina habitats support diverse food webs that consist of fish, birds, marine mammals, and invertebrates. These food webs are highly seasonal and change drastically over the ecosystem’s annual cycle, often shifting from an epiphyte dominated community to one that is occupied primarily by juvenile fish. Eelgrass restoration is occurring in the Salish Sea, yet there is little information about how temporal dynamics influence food web interactions. I investigated how Z. marina phenology (the timing of periodic seasonal events) affects temporal dynamics of epifaunal and fish food webs, and I reviewed data from literature to illustrate these temporal dynamics. I determined the effects of Z. marina phenology and human disturbances on the timing of major events in the seasonality of food webs, such as eelgrass flowering and the appearance of epiphytes and invertebrates on eelgrass blades. I reviewed literature on Z. marina phenology and temporal dynamics in food web interactions, including when juvenile fish (particularly salmon and Pacific herring) forage within eelgrass, and I illustrated a timeline of seasonal events using data from these sources. I used Z. marina flowering and biomass, epiphyte biomass, invertebrate and fish abundance, and water quality data to characterize seasonal changes in Z. marina ecosystems. This information helped me determine how humans alter temporal food web dynamics by comparing undisturbed and disturbed ecosystems. I found that Z. marina phenological influences on food web dynamics varied spatially, and that human impacts altered temporal events within those ecosystems. These results may encourage habitat restoration efforts to include community structure aspects in addition to just focusing on Z. marina re-establishment.

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Phenology explains temporal dynamics in eelgrass (Zostera marina) food web interactions

2016SSEC

Eelgrass (Zostera marina) ecosystems are found throughout the coast of the Salish Sea. Z. marina habitats support diverse food webs that consist of fish, birds, marine mammals, and invertebrates. These food webs are highly seasonal and change drastically over the ecosystem’s annual cycle, often shifting from an epiphyte dominated community to one that is occupied primarily by juvenile fish. Eelgrass restoration is occurring in the Salish Sea, yet there is little information about how temporal dynamics influence food web interactions. I investigated how Z. marina phenology (the timing of periodic seasonal events) affects temporal dynamics of epifaunal and fish food webs, and I reviewed data from literature to illustrate these temporal dynamics. I determined the effects of Z. marina phenology and human disturbances on the timing of major events in the seasonality of food webs, such as eelgrass flowering and the appearance of epiphytes and invertebrates on eelgrass blades. I reviewed literature on Z. marina phenology and temporal dynamics in food web interactions, including when juvenile fish (particularly salmon and Pacific herring) forage within eelgrass, and I illustrated a timeline of seasonal events using data from these sources. I used Z. marina flowering and biomass, epiphyte biomass, invertebrate and fish abundance, and water quality data to characterize seasonal changes in Z. marina ecosystems. This information helped me determine how humans alter temporal food web dynamics by comparing undisturbed and disturbed ecosystems. I found that Z. marina phenological influences on food web dynamics varied spatially, and that human impacts altered temporal events within those ecosystems. These results may encourage habitat restoration efforts to include community structure aspects in addition to just focusing on Z. marina re-establishment.