Can We Predict the Future: - Fish and Seagrass Nurseries of Chesapeake Bay

Thursday, September 12, 2013: 9:20 AM
Pope (Statehouse Convention Center)
Cynthia M. Jones , Center for Quantitative Fisheries Ecology, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA
The importance of estuarine seagrass beds as nurseries for juvenile fish has become a universal paradigm, especially for estuaries that are as important as Chesapeake Bay. Yet scientific tests of this hypothesis were equivocal depending on species, location, and metrics. Moreover, seagrasses themselves are under threat and one-third of seagrasses have disappeared worldwide with 65% of their losses occurring in estuaries. Although there have been extensive studies of seagrasses in Chesapeake Bay, surprisingly few studies have been directed to the relationship between seagrass nurseries as nurseries for finfish in the Bay. Of the few studies that have directly evaluated the use of seagrass nurseries, most have concentrated on single species or were of short duration. Few landscape-level or long-term studies have examined this relationship in the Bay, nor explored the potential effect of climate change. I show the state of evidence that has been accomplished so far and discuss the barriers that complicate our ability to assess the future of these nurseries.