Diversity of coastal eelgrass communities and their importance for maintaining juvenile Pacific salmon - Year Two
On the coast of British Columbia, both eelgrass meadows and Pacific salmon species are declining, yet eelgrass community dynamics and reliance of juvenile salmon on these communities are poorly understood. We will assemble the first large-scale dataset from monitoring efforts of coastal BC organizations in order to assess eelgrass community diversity and structure across environmental and human disturbance gradients (including boating, fishing, and non-native species). The final outcome of this research will be an index of eelgrass ecosystem health for all monitored meadows based on their ability to provide ecosystem services including provision of habitat for juveniles of salmon and other commercially-important fishes. In addition, the assembled dataset will enable an assessment of monitoring gaps. This project supports the Pacific Salmon Foundations (PSF) mission to guide management of Pacific salmon and their ecosystems, and contributes to research sanctioned by PSFs ongoing Salish Sea Marine Survival Project.