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Common Ecological Indicators Identify Changes in Seagrass Condition Following Disturbances in the Gulf of Mexico

Seagrasses, essential coastal plants, serve as key indicators of environmental changes over diverse time scales. In the Gulf of Mexico (GoM), researchers identified five indicators and seven metrics, measured by 38 monitoring programs, providing a cost-effective and widely applicable assessment. Utilizing a straightforward blue-gray-orange scale, the team rated seagrass health (Acceptable, Concerning, Alarming) based on long-term data, ensuring accessibility for the public, resource managers, and policymakers. Seagrass cover, shoot size, and species composition demonstrated sensitivity to climate events like droughts and hurricanes, with distinct impacts observed in Texas and Florida. The proposed framework offers a practical tool for evaluating seagrass health and establishes a foundation for assessing trends across the entire GoM.

Congdon, V. M., Hall, M. O., Furman, B. T., Campbell, J. E., Durako, M. J., Goodin, K. L., & Dunton, K. H. (2023). Common ecological indicators identify changes in seagrass condition following disturbances in the Gulf of Mexico. Ecological Indicators, 156, 111090.