Estuaries and Coasts

, Volume 34, Issue 1, pp 20–31 | Cite as

Benthic Macrophyte Distribution and Abundance in Estuarine Mangrove Lakes and Estuaries: Relationships to Environmental Variables

  • Thomas Anthony Frankovich
  • Douglas Morrison
  • James Warren Fourqurean


Annual mean salinity, light availability, and sediment depth to bedrock structured the submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) communities in subtropical mangrove-lined estuaries. Three distinct SAV communities (i.e., Chara group, Halodule group, and Low SAV coverage group) were identified along the Everglades–Florida Bay ecotone and related to water quality using a discriminant function model that predicted the type of plant community at a given site from salinity, light availability, and sediment depth to bedrock. Mean salinity alone was able to correctly classify 78% of the sites and reliably separated the Chara group from the Halodule group. The addition of light availability and sediment depth to bedrock increased model accuracy to 90% and further distinguished the Chara group from the Halodule group. Light availability was uniquely valuable in separating the Chara group from the Low SAV coverage group. Regression analyses identified significant relationships between phosphorus concentration, phytoplankton abundance, and light availability and suggest that a decline in water transparency, associated with increasing salinity, may have also contributed to the historical decline of Chara communities in the region. This investigation applies relationships between environmental variables and SAV distribution and provides a case study into the application of these general principals to ecosystem management.


Chara Halodule SAV Water quality Salinity Nutrients Light 



This research was funded by a grant from Everglades National Park under cooperative agreement number H5297-05-0041. We thank P.J. Walker for permit issuance and Dave Hallac for use of ENP facilities. Additional support was provided by the Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research program funded by the National Science Foundation. We also thank Kevin Cunniff, Steven Huddleston, Elizabeth Kozma, and Dave Ward for field assistance. We thank two anonymous reviewers and Associate Editor Jacob Carstensen for their constructive comments and recommendations that greatly improved the manuscript. This is contribution number 469 from the Southeast Environmental Research Center.


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Copyright information

© Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Anthony Frankovich
    • 1
    • 2
  • Douglas Morrison
    • 2
  • James Warren Fourqurean
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological Sciences, Marine Science Program and Southeast Environmental Research CenterFlorida International UniversityNorth MiamiUSA
  2. 2.Everglades and Dry Tortugas National ParksFlorida Bay Interagency Science CenterKey LargoUSA

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