Multi-scale Integration of Landscape Features with Plant and Water Quality Indicators

This website details an implementation program for monitoring Texas seagrasses following protocols that evaluate seagrass condition based on landscape-scale dynamics, including a hierarchical strategy for seagrass monitoring in order to establish the quantitative relationships between physical and biotic parameters that ultimately control seagrass condition, distribution, and persistence.

Click to watch a video of our 2014 Tier-2 seagrass monitoring in the Upper Laguna Madre. Created by Jace Tunnell (CBBEP).

Sampling takes place at 567 permanent stations in Aransas and Redfish Bays, Corpus Christi Bay, and Upper and Lower Laguna Madre. High-resolution maps are available from our monitoring efforts for 2011-2013. Currently we are in our fourth year of sampling, and will commence sampling of Lower Laguna Madre on October 1st. In addition to annual Tier-2 monitoring, we will be working with The Nature Conservancy to incorporate seagrasses into their statewide Blue Carbon InVEST GIS model.

This project is conducted by scientists and graduate students at The University of Texas Marine Science Institute (data collection and synthesis) and The University of Texas at Austin Center for Research in Water Resources (Tim Whiteaker, data management) under the direction of Dr. Ken Dunton. Starting in summer 2013, all field work and data collection is being overseen by Sara Wilson. All data are collected, processed and synthesized with funding provided by several sponsors (listed below). Please contact Ken at or Sara at with questions or comments.

Monitoring Plan

  • Tier 1: A remote sensing component (typically at 1:24,000 resolution) for status and trends mapping that is regularly updated at about five-year intervals.
  • Tier 2: A regional rapid assessment program using fixed stations sampled annually from a shallow-draft vessel; high resolution photoimagery analysis for deep edge delineation.
  • Tier 3: An integrated landscape approach that includes permanent stations and transects that are aligned with high resolution photoimagery to examine the presumptive factors associated with changes in seagrass maximum depth limits and patchiness.


Funding for this research has been generously provided by:

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve
National Park Service
Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program
Texas General Land Office
Texas Coastal Management Program