Coastal Ecology—Eelgrass Communities

Summary: Students collect transect data in the field to determine the distribution and abundance of life in eelgrass beds. Suitable sampling sites are available at South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve and other locations on the Oregon coast.

Concepts to teach: Sampling protocol, density, diversity

Goals: Students discover the diversity of plants and animals that thrive in eelgrass beds and explore the adaptations of eelgrass to life in the intertidal zone of an estuary.

H.2L.2, H.3 S.1, H.3S.2, H.3S.3

Specific Objectives:

  1. Students will be able to describe several adaptations that eelgrass plants possess allowing them to thrive within their niche in the estuarine environment.
  2. Students will be able to name several animals and plants that benefit from eelgrass beds and describe the ways in which these plants and animals benefit.
  3. Students will be able to identify several activities which threaten eelgrass beds and suggest possible remedies.
  4. Students will use a simple, widely accepted monitoring technique to assess the relative health of eelgrass beds.

Activity Links and Resources:


  • Use data to generate graphs and to make evidence-based conclusions about the patterns in distribution and abundance of organisms found in the sample area.