Nav: Home

The value of seagrass in securing a sustainable planet

August 07, 2018

Researchers believe that improving knowledge of how seagrasses are important for biodiversity, fisheries and our global carbon cycle in turn needs to be reflected with greater protection for these sensitive habitats.

In a recent issue of Science, Dr Richard Unsworth from Swansea University and Dr Leanne Cullen-Unsworth from Cardiff University state that seagrass conservation is crucial for climate mitigation, sustaining fisheries productivity and food security.

Seagrasses are marine flowering plants that are found along temperate and tropical coastlines around the world and provide habitat for species of fish as well as herbivores such as turtles.

However, the distribution of seagrass makes it an easily exploitable fishing habitat and like many of the world's natural habitats, seagrass meadows are in decline with estimated global losses of -7% annually since 1990. They are also a potentially crucial component of efforts to prevent rapid uncontrolled climate change, due to their ability to store carbon in their sediments.

But it is their support of biodiversity which also makes the protection of seagrasses an even greater priority. The floral diversity in seagrass meadows is relatively low, but the three-dimensional structure of their shoots, roots, and rhizomes attracts a high abundance and diversity of other organisms (such as juvenile fish).

With the right science and the political and financial will, seagrass meadows can thrive and contribute to ensuring our planet stays within its sustainable boundaries. The authors of the study point to their research and conservation work in the Coral Triangle as an example of hope.

In Indonesia where they've documented large scale seagrass loss, they have importantly also led the development of a range of seagrass conservation initiatives that are beginning to raise hope for the sustainability of these amazingly productive habitats.

Dr Richard Unsworth, from Swansea University's Biosciences department, said:

"By developing long-term collaborations with community NGO's we've been able to understand the problems facing these ecosystems from a more holistic stand point and develop bespoke locally based solutions.

"In the Wakatobi National Park in Indonesia we've facilitated the restoration of small river catchments with trees through the creation of an incentive scheme. Farmers in the Wakatobi are now growing fruit trees to protect the seagrass and coral reefs."

Seagrass meadows aren't charismatic habitats, so selling their conservation value remains difficult, however the research they describe in the recent Science article illustrates that the world needs to place a much greater level of importance on the conservation of seagrass.
-end-


Swansea University

Related Biodiversity Articles:

Biodiversity is 3-D
The species-area relationship (SAC) is a long-time considered pattern in ecology and is discussed in most of academic Ecology books.
Thought Antarctica's biodiversity was doing well? Think again
Antarctica and the Southern Ocean are not in better environmental shape than the rest of the world.
Antarctica's biodiversity is under threat
A unique international study has debunked the popular view that Antarctica and the Southern Ocean are in much better ecological shape than the rest of the world.
Poor outlook for biodiversity in Antarctica
The popular view that Antarctica and the Southern Ocean are in a much better environmental shape than the rest of the world has been brought into question in a study publishing on March 28 in the open access journal PLOS Biology, by an international team lead by Steven L.
Temperature drives biodiversity
Why is the diversity of animals and plants so unevenly distributed on our planet?
Biodiversity needs citizen scientists
Could birdwatching or monitoring tree blossoms in your community make a difference in global environmental research?
Biodiversity loss in forests will be pricey
A new global assessment of forests -- perhaps the largest terrestrial repositories of biodiversity -- suggests that, on average, a 10 percent loss in biodiversity leads to a 2 to 3 percent loss in the productivity, including biomass, that forests can offer.
Biodiversity falls below 'safe levels' globally
Levels of global biodiversity loss may negatively impact on ecosystem function and the sustainability of human societies, according to UCL-led research.
Unravelling the costs of rubber agriculture on biodiversity
A striking decline in ant biodiversity found on land converted to a rubber plantation in China.
Nitrogen is a neglected threat to biodiversity
Nitrogen pollution is a recognized threat to sensitive species and ecosystems.

Related Biodiversity Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#SB2 2019 Science Birthday Minisode: Mary Golda Ross
Our second annual Science Birthday is here, and this year we celebrate the wonderful Mary Golda Ross, born 9 August 1908. She died in 2008 at age 99, but left a lasting mark on the science of rocketry and space exploration as an early woman in engineering, and one of the first Native Americans in engineering. Join Rachelle and Bethany for this very special birthday minisode celebrating Mary and her achievements. Thanks to our Patreons who make this show possible! Read more about Mary G. Ross: Interview with Mary Ross on Lash Publications International, by Laurel Sheppard Meet Mary Golda...