INSHORE MARINE HABITATS
TOPOGRAPHY: Low-lying, coastal areas covered by shallow water.
PROCESSES / DYNAMICS / ABIOTIC FACTORS: Habitats contain sea water diluted by land runoff; water temperature, salinity, and dissolved oxygen are important determiners of species' diversity and overall ecosystem productivity.
Benthic (bottom) organisms determine to a considerable degree the community that lives in overlying water column; many fish and invertebrate species spend all or part of their life cycle in these habitats; shrimp, blue crabs, and spotted seatrout are examples of especially important recreational and commercial species; oysters are concentrated in inshore areas along the Gulf coast, particularly the Apalachicola estuary.
Upland restrictions of freshwater flow; removal of wetlands and grass beds; pollution from industrialization, urbanization, recreation, and agriculture.
Vegetation / Algae
Submerged sea grass beds are one of the most productive and important habitats of inshore marine systems; these beds are also substrates for epiphytic (attached) algae, an important component of the sea grass food web.