a Water Column - a conceptual column of water from the surface of a sea, river or lake to the bottom sediments, which is used to describe the different features found in the water at different depths (National Oceanographic Center, 2016); b Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV) - Grasses that grow to the surface of — but do not emerge from — shallow water (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2016).
An ecological indicator is a measurable characteristic of an ecosystem that is related to the ecosystem’s structure, composition or functioning. Ecological indicators can be used as a way to measure the state of a resource, its quality and/or level of stress. In addition, Ecological Indicators can provide a measure of ecological composition, structure and function (Dale and Beyeler, 2001). Measured over time, they can provide a means of tracking the statuses and trends of aquatic resources.
To develop the indicators for the assessment, SEACAR relied on current knowledge and long-term ecological monitoring programs as sources of data. Criteria for establishing indicators included:
Show statewide and site-specific trends over time;
Allow comparisons between sites and across the state;
Illustrate habitat change over time driven by biotic and abiotic factors which define community structure;
Allow data/results to directly inform and/or be utilized in local and state natural resource management decisions, submerged land planning and/or restoration;
Allow for site and/or regional specific environments and conditions (while being comparable statewide).
The Resource Assessment Data and Partner Teams reviewed available resources and representative long-term data to identify key indicators for analysis within each of the five priority submerged habitats. An inventory of monitoring data within coastal and aquatic managed areas was utilized to further define the final indicators for analysis and expose information gaps and monitoring needs.
Indicators Identified for Inclusion in SEACAR Assessment
Submerged Aquatic Vegetation
Percent Cover (by species)1
Grazers and Reef-dependent Species
Coastal Wetlands (Salt Marsh to Mangrove)
Acreage (by habitat)2
1Established with field surveys and includes algae; 2Calculated through digital interpretation of aerial photography; 3Includes chlorophyll a, turbidity, secchi depth and light attenuation; 4Includes dissolved oxygen, salinity, temperature and pH; 5Free swimming marine organisms - focus on fisheries data and species composition; 6Includes percent cover and density of gorgonians and corals.
February 24, 2020 - 3:09pm
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The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship – protecting our air, water and land. The vision of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is to create strong community partnerships, safeguard Florida’s natural resources and enhance its ecosystems.