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Seagrass Ecology Estuarine seagrass ecosystems in North Carolina and Florida Seagrasses Angiosperms flowering plants that live life entirely underwater Primary productivity is among the highest measured 500 4000 g C m2 year Important feeding and refuge habitat for fishery species shrimp scallops fishes Seagrasses act as sediment stablizers help to filter water Major polyhaline seagrass species Scientific name Zostera marina Common name eelgrass Salinity range ppt 7 35 Halodule wrightii shoal grass 12 35 Thalassia testudinum turtle grass Tolerance 3 5 60 Optimum 24 35 Syringodium filiforme manatee grass Halophila spp Halophila Ruppia maritima widgeon grass 24 35 35 2 70 Major oligohaline aquatic macrophytes Scientific name Common Name Salinity range ppt Vallisneria americanum wildcelery or freshwater eelgrass 0 9 Potamogeton pectinatus Sago pondweed 0 9 Potamogeton perfoliatus redhead grass 0 9 Zanichellia palustris horned pondweed 0 25 Myriophyllum spicatum Eurasian watermilfoil 0 10 Najas guadalupensis bushy pondweed 1 15 Seagrass productivity Species Thalassia testudinum Syringodium filiforme Halodule wrightii Zostera marina Location Productivity 2 gC m day Florida 0 9 16 Puerto Rico 2 5 4 5 Florida 0 8 3 0 Texas 0 6 9 0 North Carolina 0 5 2 0 North Carolina Rhode Island 0 2 1 7 0 4 2 9 Habitat Complexity Habitat complexity is high in seagrass SAV Predators are inhibited by complexity because the prey have many places to hide Densities of many invertebrates infaunal and epifaunal and small fishes are greater in SAV than in nearby unvegetated areas Seagrass provides a refuge from predation Types of animals in seagrass Infauna bury in sediment Polychaete worms amphipods clams benefit from root and rhizome mat which protects from predators deeper living animals survive better than shallow living Mercenaria Chione Epifauna Live on surface of blades and sediment Meiofauna harpacticoid copepods macrofauna amphipods isopods tube dwelling sessile polychaetes gastropods decapods Shoot and leaf complexity provides refuge Mobile fauna Live in water over canopy fishes swim above canopy dive into it when predator

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