About the Lecture
Scientists look to the seagrass in the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) to measure the health of the lagoon. When seagrass thrives, so does the lagoon; when water quality diminishes, so does seagrass. Field monitoring of seagrass has been conducted in the IRL twice a year since 1994 by regional agency staff and collaborators and is coordinated by the St. Johns River Water Management District.
A positive trend in IRL seagrass coverage has been the story over the past 17 years. Seagrass coverage has increased by over 24,000 acres (31%) and the total bed width (transect length) has increased by 80 m (36%), which is concurrent with an increase in seagrass depth limits by 0.3 m (23%). However, what appeared to be a functioning, balanced estuary has tipped into a spiraling decline following an unprecedented phytoplankton bloom. The “super bloom” of 2011 managed to undo all positive trends in less than one year. Questions now focus on the recovery of the system. . . if? . . . when? and. . . how long?
About the Speaker
Lori Morris, received her B.S. in Geology from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and her M.S. in Marine Science from College of William and Mary - Virginia Institute of Marine Science. She has 20 years of experience involving the monitoring and restoration of seagrasses in the Indian River Lagoon (IRL).
Ms. Morris is responsible for the overall management of 100 fixed seagrass transects throughout the IRL system along with other flora and fauna species. Ms. Morris also manages the solar light or Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR) data collected as a component of the IRL water quality and seagrass monitoring networks. The data are required for quantifying and assessing relationships among seagrass, light, and water quality. She has succeeded in standardizing the sampling protocols among all entities participating in PAR measurements and in seagrass monitoring in Florida. She has authored or co-authored over 25 peer-reviewed publications and has presented at numerous professional conferences and public meetings.