Shoalgrass Halodule wrightii (Ascherson, 1868) meadows in El Salvador: distribution and associated macroinvertebrates at the estuary complex of Bahía de Jiquilisco
Henríquez, Ana V.
Liles, Michael J.
Seagrasses are aquatic angiosperms that grow submerged in shallow marine and estuarine environments worldwide. Halodule wrightii is a circumtropically distributed seagrass species found primarily in the Atlantic Ocean, but also in parts of the Indian Ocean and eastern Pacific Ocean. Along the Pacific coast of Central America, large swaths of the reported distribution of H. wrightii are assumptions based on interpolation between known seagrass point locations, and despite confirmation of H. wrightii occurrence in Bahía de Jiquilisco in El Salvador, little is known about its distribution and associated species, which can hamper efforts to conserve this seagrass ecosystem. To address these gaps in data, we provide the first assessment of H. wrightii distribution and associated macroinvertebrate species in Bahía de Jiquilisco. We identified six areas where seagrasses occurred and two of these were selected for monitoring. At the two sampled areas, heterogeneous patches of H. wrightii covered 27.1 km2 with 22 associated macroinvertebrate species from three taxonomic groups in three phyla. We conclude by discussing local threats to H. wrightii, including implications for endangered hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata and green (Chelonia mydas agassizii) turtles that depend on these ecosystems, and describe opportunities for conservation in Bahía de Jiquilisco.