The ecology of the nearshore benthos (from intertidal to 10 m depth) has been studied in detail at many coastal locations in the United States. However, the processes that couple the intertidal regions with those in the nearshore ocean are poorly understood. It is clear, however, that there is strong physical and biological coupling between the nearshore and the intertidal habitats. Prediction of how these communities will change over time or space is still a significant challenge. Nevertheless, Map data of dominant habitats, as well as statistics about spatial frequency and abundance, are important to our understanding of how these systems interact and function and have many applications in resource management as well as basic research. Such understanding is especially critical as we try to make predictions about impacts of large-scale environmental phenomena, from coastal eutrophication, to oil spills, to shifts in weather patterns and wind driven processes (ENSO and global climate change).
A total of 4,207 along-shore segments were mapped in Kachemak Bay: 1,527 segments in 2002, 902 segments in 2003, and 1778 segments in 2004. Approximately 95% (301 miles) of Kachemak Bay has been mapped. The segments include attribute data that include: beach energy, slope, dynamism, grain size, beach use, and the presence of biological characteristics such as: barnacles, algae, fucus, mussels, verrucaria, and kelp.
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