Date of Award

Spring 4-29-2013

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Department

Biology

First Advisor

Dr. Craig Layman

Second Advisor

Dr. Walter Goldberg

Third Advisor

Dr. Timothy Collins

Abstract

Globally, mangrove ecosystems have substantially declined, largely a result of human impacts. Mangroves provide a number of ecosystem services such as shoreline stabilization and nursery habitat for fish species. As declines continue, many of these ecosystem services are lost or altered. The need for shoreline stabilization has become increasingly apparent when chronic erosion wear away coastlines once mangroves are removed. Limestone boulders called riprap have been employed to offset continued erosion associated with mangrove clearing. In urban coastal areas adjacent to Biscayne Bay, Florida, as much as 80 percent of mangroves have been lost. More recently, riprap has been used in conjunction with mangroves to restore wetlands throughout the Bay. This riprap-mangrove habitat provides structure for marine organisms to colonize. However, fish assemblages and benthic composition could vary between this hybridized habitat and natural mangrove systems. Comparisons of fish and benthic community structure were made, to determine if abundance, species richness, and overall diversity differed between the two habitat types. Visual census and benthic quadrat surveys were conducted in vi mangrove and mangrove-riprap sites within two regions of Biscayne Bay. Total fish abundance was greater in mangroves, but the effect of habitat type on species richness varied between regions. The community structure of fishes and benthic composition differed significantly between mangroves and riprap habitats. Because species composition is so distinct, it is likely that the two communities do no function in the same manner. In areas with cleared shorelines, it may be important to consider the function of added anthropogenic structure for ecological communities.

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