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Monitoring annual trends in abundance of eelgrass (Zostera marina) at Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska, 2018

April 24, 2019

A lagoon-wide, point-sampling survey of eelgrass (Zostera marina) abundance was conducted in Izembek Lagoon, Alaska, August 7–16, 2018, the ninth year of annual surveys (2007–11, 2015–18). Mean predicted aboveground biomass of eelgrass across 116 sampled points was 238 grams per square meter (g m-2) (95 percent confidence interval: 203–278 g m-2) in 2018, an increase of 240 percent from the previous year’s low estimate of 97 g m-2 (95 percent confidence interval: 78–120 g m-2). The increase marked the third year since 2015 where eelgrass biomass was above the long-term mean (158 g m-2). Eelgrass biomass was stable over the 9 years of this survey. A separate (transect) survey for eelgrass abundance at Grant Point-Old Boat Launch showed annual trends in eelgrass biomass similar to the lagoon-wide survey, but over a slightly longer time (2007–18). The estimates of above-average eelgrass biomass in Izembek Lagoon were likely influenced by relatively warm air temperatures and little or no ice in winter (air temperatures 2.7 degrees Celsius greater than the 12-year mean) and average (cool) air temperatures during the growing season (April–August) in 2018.

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