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Changes in Seagrass Distribution Can Help in Assessing the Success of Coastal Management in Puerto Rico

National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science and Special Projects Office scientists have published a spatial analysis of changes in submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) in Vieques Sound, east of Puerto Rico, and provided recommendations for future monitoring. SAV provides important habitat and food functions, for a wide variety of fish, invertebrates and birds, and changes in SAV can have impacts on the species that depend on it. The analysis, published in the Bulletin of Marine Science, identifies specific areas of seagrass expansion and decline from 1985 to 2000 and discusses possible causes. Landsat image pairs, NOAA benthic habitat maps, and other data from the Summit-to-Sea project were used to identify significant changes in SAV, and link these to satellite-derived depth, characteristics of coastal watersheds on Vieques, and recent hurricane paths. The publication is available as a Portable Document Format file from http://www.rsmas.miami.edu/bms, and a summary of the Summit-to-Sea characterization of coastal watersheds is available at http://ccma.nos.noaa.gov/ecosystems/coralreef/summit_sea/.

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