Effects of Seagrass Habitat and Environmental Stressors on Blue Crab Populations in Texas
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Declining blue crab stocks in Texas coastal systems in the 1980s and most recently in the early 2000s have led scientists and policy makers to re-evaluate fishery management plans. A newer ecosystem-based approach to managing these fisheries has recently gained some traction from policy makers, termed Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries. An important component to understanding this approach, is to understand the relationship between a fishery and its ecosystem components. The goal of this study is to investigate the relationship between the blue crab fishery and its habitat of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV). Alongside of this investigation, the study also examines environmental stressors (e.g. water temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, turbidity) that may lead to changes within a fishery. The results of this research suggest relationships may exist between blue crab catch, seagrass habitat, and select environmental stressors. Environmental stressors, such as salinity, are found to be equally influencing drivers for blue crab populations along the coast of Texas. Although aimed to represent an ecosystem-based approach in the models, this study is limited to just a few interactions within the system. This work serves as a stepping stone for future work, where interactions between socioeconomic factors and additional ecological factors (e.g. freshwater inflow, tidal and wind influence, system morphology) should be taken into account. This level of adaptation is best to effectively manage ecosystems so that “bottom up”, “top down”, and mid - level interactions are recognized and managed accordingly.
Casillas, Jessica C. (2018). Effects of Seagrass Habitat and Environmental Stressors on Blue Crab Populations in Texas. Master's thesis, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from