Seagrass Monitoring

field crew monitoring seagrass for Gulf Coast Network
Field crew examining seagrass beds.


Seagrass is an important part of marine ecosystems. It provides food and habitat for many marine species, and helps to maintain water quality. It also helps to stabilize the sea floor, which is subject to constant wave action. Because it is sensitive to habitat change, it is a good indicator for broader changes to marine ecosystems in coastal parks. For these reasons, the Gulf Coast Network chose seagrass as a vital sign for monitoring.

The network works with cooperators to record the current status of seagrass communities and track them for changes over time. While visiting each seagrass monitoring site, field crews also record variables that may affect the health of seagrass beds, such as salinity, depth, light, nutrient concentrations, dissolved oxygen, and temperature. The complete background, rationale and procedures for seagrass monitoring are described in a protocol narrative and several standard operating procedure (SOP) documents. The protocol is titled "Monitoring Seagrass in Parks of the Gulf Coast Network". It was published in the NPS Natural Resource Report Series in 2019, and it is available to the public through IRMA, following the links further below.

A summary of the vital sign and monitoring approach can also be found in the 2-page brief: Seagrass Monitoring Program Summary.

More information on our seagrass monitoring sites in Texas can be found on the website of our cooperators at the Texas Seagrass Monitoring Program.

Source: Data Store Saved Search 3555. To search for additional information, visit the Data Store.

manatee grass in an underwater scene
Syringodium filiforme, manatee grass, is found in some seagrass beds at Padre Island National Seashore and Gulf Islands National Seashore

Joe Meiman/NPS

Last updated: November 10, 2023