, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 92-108
Date: 02 Sep 2011

The Influence of Wave Energy and Sediment Transport on Seagrass Distribution

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Abstract

A coupled hydrodynamic and sediment transport model (Delft3D) was used to simulate the water levels, waves, and currents associated with a seagrass (Zostera marina) landscape along a 4-km stretch of coast in Puget Sound, WA, USA. A hydroacoustic survey of seagrass percent cover and nearshore bathymetry was conducted, and sediment grain size was sampled at 53 locations. Wave energy is a primary factor controlling seagrass distribution at the site, accounting for 73% of the variability in seagrass minimum depth and 86% of the variability in percent cover along the shallow, sandy portions of the coast. A combination of numerical simulations and a conceptual model of the effect of sea-level rise on the cross-shore distribution of seagrass indicates that the area of seagrass habitat may initially increase and that wave dynamics are an important factor to consider in predicting the effect of sea-level rise on seagrass distributions in wave-exposed areas.