Evaluation of the Potential for Sea Grass Mapping and Restoration in the Mississippi Sound: MX 974174
Project Title: Evaluation of the Potential for Sea Grass
Mapping and Restoration in the Mississippi Sound
Project #: MX 974174
Seagrasses are a productive and important continued element of near shore ecosystems; they provide food and shelter for many species. However, the survival and growth may be threatened by the cumulative effects of activities in the coastal marine environment.
The distribution of seagrass is determined on the availability of light and water clarity. Seagrass requires more light than any algal species because of non-photosynthetic root and rhizome tissue. Halodule wrightii (shoal grass) often grows in shallow water and exposed to nearly full sunlight. Because H. wrightii has limited rhizome storage reserves to draw upon during low light, it is hypothesized that long-term light reduction will slow asexual and sexual reproduction, which lowers the plants ability to replenish itself after high levels of shoot loss (Backman and Barilotti, 1976).
Recovery and recolonization of seagrass after loss is rare and destruction of seagrass habitat may have long-term consequences for sediment stability and secondary production (Walker and McComb, 1992). The purpose of this project was to provide a comparison of the historical and present distribution of seagrass in the Mississippi Sound. By identifying areas of historical seagrass vegetation, future restoration efforts may be targeted to areas that may provide more successful restoration activities.
A total of 902.6 acres of seagrasses were mapped throughout the study area. Cat Island had the largest seagrass area: 507.6 acres. Horn Island had 246.7 acres, Petit Bois Island had 131.3 acres and Ship Island had 16.9 acres.
In the figures below, the restoration potential model output shows potential restoration areas on a light-to-dark color scale. Yellow and light green areas are predicted to have a moderate potential for seagrass restoration, while darker green areas are predicted to have a higher potential for seagrass restoration.