Eelgrass (Zostera marina) is a highly productive seagrass that plays an essential role in the health of the estuarine and coastal ecosystems; however, information about its abundance and distribution is insufficient in the Bering Sea along the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge. We inventoried the spatial extent and abundance of eelgrass and seaweed in Duchikthluk and Shoal bays on Nunivak Island in July 2010. Using Landsat Thematic Mapper imagery, we estimated the spatial extent of eelgrass to be 1,232 hectares in Duchikthluk Bay and 40 hectares in Shoal Bay. The overall accuracy of the assessments was high (86–87 percent) based on ground truthing using field reference points. We used point-sampling methodology to assess eelgrass abundance relative to the presence of associated seaweeds and selected macro-invertebrates within each of bays. Eelgrass was found at water depths ranging from 0.1 to 2.9 meters across both bays, but the greatest density (>75 percent cover) occurred primarily in moderate to deep water (0.7–1.4 meters) in Duchikthluk Bay and deeper water (>2 meters) in Shoal Bay. The mean aboveground biomass was 39.4±4.0 grams per meter squared in Duchikthluk Bay. The eelgrass biomass was greater (67.6±11.0 grams per meter squared) in Shoal Bay, but this estimate was based on a small sample size (n=3). Seaweeds, representing six species, occurred in low abundance across both bays and were primarily associated with eelgrass. Gastropods were the most common macro-invertebrate, occurring at 45 percent of field points in Duchikthluk Bay.
|Title||Eelgrass (Zostera marina) and seaweed abundance along the coast of Nunivak Island, Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska, 2010|
|Authors||David H. Ward, Kyle R. Hogrefe, Tyrone F. Donnelly, Lucretia L. Fairchild|
|Publication Subtype||USGS Numbered Series|
|Series Title||Open-File Report|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Alaska Science Center Biology WTEB|