Estuaries and Coasts

, 34:1150 | Cite as

The Optical Properties of Greater Florida Bay: Implications for Seagrass Abundance

  • Meredith L. McPhersonEmail author
  • Victoria J. Hill
  • Richard C. Zimmerman
  • Heidi M. Dierssen


Water column optical properties of Greater Florida Bay were investigated in the context of their impacts on seagrass distribution. Scattering played an important role in light attenuation throughout the shallow water system. The northwest region was characterized by an absence of seagrasses and the highest scattering by particles, mostly from resuspended carbonate sediments. Higher seagrass densities were observed in the open waters just north of the Florida Keys, where absorption coefficients were dominated by colored dissolved organic material and scattering was lower than in the northwest region. Patchy dense seagrass meadows were observed in the clear waters south of the Keys where scattering and absorption were low and contributed equally to light attenuation. In general, seagrasses were observed in areas where >7.5% of surface irradiance reached the plants and where optical properties were not dominated by scattering. Although the prevention of eutrophication and nuisance algal blooms may be necessary for preserving seagrass meadows in this system, our observations and model calculations indicate that nutrient control alone may be insufficient to permit seagrass recolonization if optical properties are dominated by particulate scattering from resuspended sediments.


Seagrass Optical properties Florida Bay Scattering Light 



Many thanks to D. Ruble, M. Stoughton, C. Buonassissi, A. Branco, J. Godfrey, D. Aurin, and J. Cousins for their assistance, persistence, and camaraderie in the field and lab. Financial support was provided by the Ocean Biology & Biogeochemistry Program, NASA (project number: NNG04GN84G).

Supplementary material

12237_2011_9411_MOESM1_ESM.docx (11 kb)
Electronic Supplemental Material Table 1 (a) ANOVA results comparing K d(440) values among regions A, B, and C. p values less than or equal to 0.05 indicate significant differences among regions. (b) Post hoc tests from ANOVA testing of K d(440). A p value of less than 0.05 indicates that a significant difference is found between regions. (DOCX 11 kb)
12237_2011_9411_MOESM2_ESM.docx (11 kb)
Electronic Supplemental Material Table 2 (a) ANOVA results comparing b p(440) values among regions A, B, and C. p values less than or equal to 0.05 indicate significant differences among regions. (b) Post hoc tests from ANOVA testing of b p(440). A p value of less than 0.05 indicates that a significant difference is found between regions. (DOCX 11 kb)
12237_2011_9411_MOESM3_ESM.docx (12 kb)
Electronic Supplemental Material Table 3 (a) ANOVA results comparing b bp(550)/b p(555) values among regions A, B, and C. p values less than or equal to 0.05 indicate significant differences among regions. (b) Post hoc tests from ANOVA testing of b bp(550)/b p(555). A p value of less than 0.05 indicates that a significant difference is found between regions. (DOCX 11 kb)


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Copyright information

© Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Meredith L. McPherson
    • 1
    Email author
  • Victoria J. Hill
    • 1
  • Richard C. Zimmerman
    • 1
  • Heidi M. Dierssen
    • 2
  1. 1.Department Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric SciencesOld Dominion UniversityNorfolkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Marine SciencesUniversity of ConnecticutGrotonUSA

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