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Data from: A human impact metric for coastal ecosystems with application to seagrass beds in Atlantic Canada

Citation

Murphy, Grace E.P.; Wong, Melisa C.; Lotze, Heike K. (2019), Data from: A human impact metric for coastal ecosystems with application to seagrass beds in Atlantic Canada, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.9b245g0

Abstract

Coastal biogenic habitats are vulnerable to human impacts from both terrestrial and marine realms. Yet the broad spatial scale used in current approaches of quantifying anthropogenic stressors is not relevant to the finer scales affecting most coastal habitats. We developed a standardized human impact metric that includes five bay-scale and four local-scale (0–1 km) terrestrial and marine-based impacts to quantify the magnitude of anthropogenic impacts to coastal bays and nearshore biogenic habitats. We applied this metric to 180 seagrass beds (Zostera marina), an important biogenic habitat prioritized for marine protection, in 52 bays across Atlantic Canada. The results show that seagrass beds and coastal bays exist across a wide human impact gradient and provide insight into which are the most and least affected by human threats. Generally, land alteration, nutrient loading, and shellfish aquaculture were higher in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, whereas invasive species and fishing activities were higher along the Atlantic coast. Sixty-four percent of bays were at risk of seagrass decline from nitrogen loading. We also found high within-bay variation in impact intensity, emphasizing the necessity of quantifying impacts at multiple spatial scales. We discuss implications for management and conservation planning, and application to other coastal habitats in Canada and beyond.

Usage Notes

Location

Atlantic Canada