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Ecological Section

Major, C. Smoot [1], Major, Kelly [1].

A preliminary survey of macroalgal and aquatic plant distribution in the Mobile-Tensaw delta.

Despite the importance of the Delta as a natural filter, sedimentation trap and habitat for rare plant and animal communities, we know very little about the biocomplexity that defines this ecosystem. This work is meant to serve as a pilot study for the reconnaissance and physicochemical description of the Mobile-Tensaw Delta. Specific emphasis is being placed on the examination of spatial and temporal variations in physicochemical parameters (e.g., pH, salinity, dissolved oxygen, nutrient concentrations, etc.) and land use categories (e.g., human habitat, forestry and industry) as they relate to and/or define macroalgal and aquatic plant abundance, distribution and community structure. Because this project specifically targets areas characterized by anthropogenic disturbance, site selection was deliberately relegated to impacted regions. However, permanent sampling stations were then randomly chosen within these high impact areas. Thus far, plots characterized by siltation, turbidity, low light and heavy boat traffic exhibit low aquatic plant diversity and little to no algal growth, showing clear signs of effect. In contrast, sites characterized by less human disturbance, less turbidity and high light exhibit high biodiversity of aquatic plants and algal abundance. The end results of this work are expected to provide baseline information regarding the present status of this important resource and contribute to our knowledge of the processes that govern algal and aquatic plant community composition in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta. Moreover, this study will allow us to set up permanent monitoring sites within the Delta for the close examination of potentially useful bioindicator species as in situ monitors of ecosystem health [with particular attention paid to land use and eutrophication].

1 - University of South Alabama, Biological Sciences, Life Sciences Building #124, 307 University Blvd. North, Mobile, Alabama, 36688-0002, United States

community ecology
environmental change
Plant Biodiversity
community structure.

Presentation Type: Poster
Session: 32-29
Location: Special Event Center (Cliff Lodge)
Date: Tuesday, August 3rd, 2004
Time: 12:30 PM
Abstract ID:214

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