Accelerating loss of seagrasses across the globe threatens coastal ecosystems

Waycott, Michelle, Duarte, Carlos M., Carruthers, Tim J.B., Orth, Robert J., Dennison, William C., Olyarnik, Suzanne, Calladine, Ainsley, Fourqurean, James W., Heck Jr., Kenneth L., Hughes, A. Randall, Kendrick, Gary A., Kenworthy, W. Judson, Short, Frederick T, and Williams, Susan L. (2009) Accelerating loss of seagrasses across the globe threatens coastal ecosystems. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106 (30). pp. 12377-12381.

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Abstract

Coastal ecosystems and the services they provide are adversely affected by a wide variety of human activities. In particular, seagrass meadows are negatively affected by impacts accruing from the billion or more people who live within 50 km of them. Seagrass meadows provide important ecosystem services, including an estimated $1.9 trillion per year in the form of nutrient cycling; an order of magnitude enhancement of coral reef fish productivity; a habitat for thousands of fish, bird, and invertebrate species; and a major food source for endangered dugong, manatee, and green turtle. Although individual impacts from coastal development, degraded water quality, and climate change have been documented, there has been no quantitative global assessment of seagrass loss until now. Our comprehensive global assessment of 215 studies found that seagrasses have been disappearing at a rate of 110 km2 yr^−1 since 1980 and that 29% of the known areal extent has disappeared since seagrass areas were initially recorded in 1879. Furthermore, rates of decline have accelerated from a median of 0.9% yr^−1 before 1940 to 7% yr^−1 since 1990. Seagrass loss rates are comparable to those reported for mangroves, coral reefs, and tropical rainforests and place seagrass meadows among the most threatened ecosystems on earth.

Item ID: 10564
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: ecosystem decline, global trajectories, habitat loss, marine habitat, marine science, population genetics, global change
ISSN: 1091-6490
Date Deposited: 24 May 2010 06:10
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 30%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0699 Other Biological Sciences > 069902 Global Change Biology @ 70%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9606 Environmental and Natural Resource Evaluation > 960604 Environmental Management Systems @ 40%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960802 Coastal and Estuarine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 20%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9613 Remnant Vegetation and Protected Conservation Areas > 961304 Remnant Vegetation and Protected Conservation Areas in Coastal and Estuarine Environments @ 40%
Citation Count from Web of Science Web of Science 400
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