Predicting Population Decline: Seagrass Demographics and the Reconstructive Technique

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reconstructive technique, demography, population biology, clonal plant, seagrass, Thalassia testudinum, Florida Bay


Seagrasses constitute an important component in the nearshore coastal ecosystem, and the declining seagrass habitat is well documented in some areas. A reconstructive technique developed to discern seagrass population demographics with a single sampling event previously predicted the decline of Thalassia testudinum populations in Florida Bay, Florida, USA. The results of that model were tested by comparing predicted and actual populations in 1994. A predicted shoot density decline of 49% was not recorded in field populations; instead the population had increased by 51%. We explored 2 potential reasons for the inaccuracy: sampling design, to account for spatial and temporal variability; and data collection procedures that create a demographic bias in the model input. We found that both factors alter the demographic statistics, which modify the model's outcome. Limitations of the model are discussed with respect to its assumptions and interpretation of results.

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Marine Ecology-Progress Series, v. 136, issue 1/3, p. 267-276