Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)


Moss Landing Marine Laboratories


Seagrasses provide an array of ecosystem services to the nearshore marine community. The goal of this study was to begin to determine the role of the seagrass, Zostera marina, in habitat provisioning within Elkhorn Slough, CA. Part one uses maps to assess variability in the spatial extent of Zostera marina in Elkhorn Slough over time and the potential of Zostera to provide a unique habitat to species assemblages within the slough. Part two examines habitat use within and among Zostera, algae and bare habitats in Elkhorn Slough by fishes and some mobile epibenthic invertebrates. Zostera beds were mapped a total of six times; twice in 2007 and four times during 2008. Habitat use sampling was conducted from February 2008 to October 2008, split into the three sampling seasons winter, spring/summer, and fall. Zostera, algae and bare habitat were sampled each season using a 1-m3 throw-trap and a stratified random design. Distribution, abundance and frequency of occurrence of species were compared across habitats and times using various metrics. Species distributions patterns indicated multiple potential habitat functions for Zostera. Species richness and diversity were highest in Zostera among the three habitats tested, and bare substrate was the most deplete of animals. Some species were exclusively found within Zostera while other species were distributed among all habitats. Trends in both size and abundance of particular fishes over time suggest Zostera beds provide nursery habitat within Elkhorn Slough.


Thesis (M.S.) Division of Science and Environmental Policy. Moss Landing Marine Laboratories