Linking habitat to recruitment: evaluating the importance of pelagic Sargassum to fisheries management in the Gulf of Mexico

Project Overview

Implementing Organization
University of Southern Mississippi

DWH Project Funding


Known Leveraged Funding


Funding Organization

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Funding Program

The RESTORE Act Funds Bucket 4: NOAA RESTORE Act Science Program

Project Location: Mississippi

Funding Source: Transocean
Controlling Document: The RESTORE Act
Year Awarded: 2017

Project Details

Project Category

Project Actions

Monitoring and Observations

Targeted Resources

Submerged Aquatic Vegetation

Project Description

Sargassum is thought to serve as nursery habitat for recreationally and commercially important fishes in the Gulf of Mexico, such as gray triggerfish and mahi mahi. However, information about the nursery function of Sargassum for juvenile life stages of these fishes is lacking, and little is known about the environmental factors that drive variability in Sargassum abundance and distribution. To evaluate the nursery function and importance of Sargassum to fisheries in a way that is useful to fisheries managers, and to better understand the ocean and climate conditions that result in “good” Sargassum years, the researchers will measure variability in the distribution and abundance of Sargassum in the northern Gulf of Mexico. They will also assess the nursery-role function of Sargassum relative to its location and variability in different habitats (open ocean vs. nearer to shore) and the morphology (i.e. thickness) of Sargassum mats. Additionally, they will develop and test the usefulness of including measures of the capacity for Sargassum to serve as juvenile fish nursery habitat (i.e. habitat indices) in population assessments of recreationally and commercially important fish species associated with Sargassum. These habitat indices will be developed using data collected from satellites and ships in the field. In total, this project will assess the relationship between Sargassum and the recruitment of managed fish species by considering the quality of the Sargassum habitat (in terms of available food resources, growth, and environmental conditions) for juvenile fishes associated with Sargassum.

Project Contact

Project Partners


Affiliated Institutions

University of South Florida

Project ID: 637
Project Name: Linking habitat to recruitment: evaluating the importance of pelagic Sargassum to fisheries management in the Gulf of Mexico
SourceUID: 0
Latitude: 31.32763682
Longitude: -89.33158081
Country: United States of America
State or Province: Mississippi
County: Hattiesburg
Project Category: Science
Project Action: Monitoring and Observations
Additional Project Action(s):
Additional Project Action(s):
Targeted Resource(s): Submerged Aquatic Vegetation
Targeted Resource(s):
Targeted Resource(s):
Anticipated Project Completion Year: 2020
Implementing Organization: University of Southern Mississippi
Implementing Organization Type: Academic
Point of Contact – Name: Frank Hernandez
Point of Contact – Phone:
Point of Contact – Email: 228-818-8800
Other Partners: NOAA
Affiliated Institutions: University of South Florida
Project Comments: None
Acres Acquired: 0
Close Year: 0
Close Month: 0
Close day: 0
Purchase Type: None
Landowner: None
Landowner Type: None
Purpose: None
Public Access: None
Easement Holder Name : None
Easement Holder Type: None
Secondary Easement Holder 1: None
Secondary Easement Holder 2: None
Duration: None
Term: 0
Land Restoration Acreage: 0
Aquatic Restoration Acreage: 0
Restoration Mileage: 0
Restoration Feet: 0
Additional Acreage: None
Total Dollar Amount (from all funders): 1770853
DWH Funder: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
DWH Funder Type: Federal
DWH Funding Program: The RESTORE Act Funds Bucket 4: NOAA RESTORE Act Science Program
DWH Dollar Amount : 1770853
DWH Source: Transocean
Fund Origin: Civil Settlement
Controlling Documents: The RESTORE Act
Award Year: 2017
Award Month: 6
Total Amount Leveraged: 0