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Study Site

Seagrass habitat is essential for the early life history of commercially important marine species, providing refugia, nutrients and protection from severe hydrological mechanisms. Epibenthic and infaunal organisms inhabiting seagrass beds represent an important food source for the larvae and juveniles of economically important macrofaunal species. As part of a Halodule wrightii (shoal grass) restoration project in western Galveston Bay, Texas, benthic core samples were collected for 16 months following the initial planting. Analyses of these samples are being used to determine the change in epibenthic and infaunal community composition as the created seagrass beds mature. Bare sand adjacent to the planted sites and a natural seagrass bed 15 km southwest of the planted sites, were used for comparison. Also, the experimental design allowed for evaluation of the effects of relative water depth, planting density and distance to the edge on benthic community composition. Results from the monitoring aspect of this study and evaluation of the effects of planting design can contribute important information to guidelines for future seagrass restoration projects.