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Seagrass-associated Fish Recover Quickly From Cyclones

Fish that live in the seagrass meadows of North Carolina’s Back Sound seem to recover quickly from tropical cyclones, demonstrating a capacity for resilience in the face of disruptive shocks, reports a study published last month in Plos One.

The study, which used data collected over the course of 10 years, found that there was no significant difference in the fish communities before and after a storm, or during hurricane years and years with no hurricane. Dr. Y. Stacy Zhang, assistant professor in the Department of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at North Carolina State University and lead author on the study, hypothesizes that the resilience of the fish communities is tied to the integrity of the seagrass habitats that they depend on.

“Do they have a home to come back to, in the same way where if humans evacuate for a storm, do they have a home to come back to afterwards?” Zhang said. “That’d be changing the numbers.”

The study used data from a long-term trawl survey run by Dr. Joel Fodrie at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and consisting of two-minute trawls through seagrass meadows in Back Sound in Carteret County. They trawled monthly, randomly selecting a few sites to trawl each time and documenting how many fish came up and what types. The frequency and longevity of this sampling allowed the researchers to look for short-term trends — within three weeks of impact — as well as seasonal shifts.

Continue reading at coastalreview.org.

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