Term of Award

Summer 2023

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Biology

Committee Chair

Georgianne Moore

Committee Member 1

John Carroll

Committee Member 2

Jacque Kelly

Committee Member 3

J. Checo Colón-Gaud

Committee Member 3 Email



Ecosystem services provided by seagrass meadow communities in Florida Bay propagate economic opportunity and carbon sequestration among many other benefits. Recent seagrass die-off events have threatened Florida Bay’s ecosystem and its ability to provide these services. These impacts fuel ongoing research investigating the complex causes of seagrass die-offs. While previous research has described how water quality parameters can lead to seagrass die-offs, there is still much to be explored regarding the proximate causes for these water quality changes. The aquifers underneath the bay may hold the missing pieces in our understanding of die-off events, as submarine groundwater discharge (SGD) can provide as much groundwater input to the bay as the Everglades (Corbett et al., 1999). SGD was mapped using radon-222 as a proxy for groundwater discharge magnitude in 2 basins affected by recent die-off events of varying intensity, with Rankin basin at the epicenter of both die-off events and Whipray basin affected moderately. Surveys using Braun-Blanquet characterization of canopy cover for both high and low discharge areas have provided insights into the interaction between Florida Bay’s keystone seagrass species, Thalassia testudinum, and SGD. Results indicate both expected differences between basins in community composition and a decrease in T. testudinum density within Whipray basin at sites of low SGD. Community assemblages between basins are dissimilar, with NMDS plots revealing that basin differences make up the majority of variability in community assemblages between sites.

Research Data and Supplementary Material


Available for download on Monday, July 15, 2024