SALT MARSH VEGETATION AND NEKTON COMMUNITY MONITORING AT FIRE ISLAND NATIONAL SEASHORE
The Northeast Coastal and Barrier Network (NCBN) is one of 32 networks of parks created by the Inventory and Monitoring Program (I&M Program) of the National Park Service. The I&M Program has two components, 1) to collect baseline ecological inventory datasets and 2) to implement Vital Signs monitoring, a long-term ecological monitoring program, in each of the Network parks. The Northeast Coastal and Barrier Network consists of eight parks linked by geography and shared ecological characteristics along the Northeastern Atlantic Coast. As part of the Vital Signs program, each Network has developed detailed protocols for monitoring a select number of Vital Signs, or ecological indicators. Because the majority of parks in the NCBN are coastal parks, salt marsh monitoring was chosen as a high priority and a protocol was developed for collecting long-term data on salt marsh vegetation and nekton (James-Pirri In Development a,b).
This annual report summarizes the first year of data collected at Fire Island National Seashore
(FIIS) located in New York. Approximately fifty vegetation plots and a subset of pools and
ditches were sampled for nekton at six marshes June-August, 2009. Monitoring data is to be
collected at these same marsh sites biennially. Nekton in marsh pools were sampled with a 1m2 aluminum throw trap (Kushlan 1981, Sogard & Able 1991, Raposa and Roman 2001). Nekton in
ditches were sampled using ditch nets (James-Pirri et al. 2010) Vegetation was monitored using
1m2 plots and a revised Braun-Blanquet method (Kent and Coker 1992) to estimate percent cover
of each vegetation species and non-vegetation cover type within each plot.
Six species of nekton were recorded at five sites at FIIS in 2009, including 4 fish species, 1 crab species, and 1 shrimp species. Examination of percent catch data indicates that two nekton species account for approximately 81% of all nekton captured. The most prevalent species, daggerblade grass shrimp (Palaemonetes pugio), accounts for approximately 49% of all nekton recorded at FIIS in 2009. The second most prevalent species, Atlantic silverside (Menidia menidia), accounts for approximately 32% of all nekton recorded.
The information collected through this long-term monitoring program will equip park managers with scientific data to make informed decisions on both the aquatic and terrestrial resources they manage. This report summarizes the 2009 baseline data for FIIS salt marshes. Changes in salt marsh condition will be examined following data collection in 2011. By understanding the changes or trends occurring in salt marsh vegetation and nekton communities, managers will be able to better adapt and respond to these changes through their management practices.
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