Spatial patterns of sub-tidal seagrasses and their tissue nutrients in the Torres Strait, northern Australia: implications for management

Sheppard, James K., Carter, Alex B., McKenzie, Len J., Pitcher, C. Roland, and Coles, Robert G. (2008) Spatial patterns of sub-tidal seagrasses and their tissue nutrients in the Torres Strait, northern Australia: implications for management. Continental Shelf Research, 28 (16). pp. 2282-2291.

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Abstract

The distribution and nutritional profiles of sub-tidal seagrasses from the Torres Strait were surveyed and mapped across an area of 31,000 km2. Benthic sediment composition, water depth, seagrass species type and nutrients were sampled at 168 points selected in a stratified representative pattern. Eleven species of seagrass were present at 56 (33.3%) of the sample points. Halophila spinulosa, Halophila ovalis, Cymodocea serrulata and Syringodium isoetifolium were the most common species and these were nutrient profiled. Sub-tidal seagrass distribution (and associated seagrass nutrient concentrations) was generally confined to northern-central and south-western regions of the survey area (<longitude 142.60), where mean water depth was relatively shallow (approximately 13 m below MSL) and where sediments were comprised primarily muddy sand to gravelly sand. Seagrass nitrogen and starch content, the most important nutrients for marine herbivores, were significantly correlated with species and with the plant component (above or below ground). For all seagrass species, the above-ground component (shoots and leaves) possessed greater nitrogen concentrations than the below-ground component (roots and rhizomes), which possessed greater starch concentrations. S. isoetifolium had the highest total nitrogen concentrations (1.40±0.05% DW). However, it also had higher fibre concentrations (38.2±0.68% DW) relative to the other four species. H. ovalis possessed the highest starch concentrations (2.76±0.12% DW) and highest digestibility (83.24±0.66% DW) as well as the lowest fibre (27.2±0.66% DW). The high relative abundance (found at 55% of the sites that had seagrass) and nutrient quality characteristics of H. ovalis make it an important source of energy to marine herbivores that forage sub-tidally in the Torres Strait. There were two regions in Torres Strait (north-central and south-western) where sub-tidal seagrass meadows were prevalent and of relatively higher nutritional value. This spatial and nutritional information can be used by local agencies to manage and to protect the ecological, economic and cultural values of the sub-tidal seagrass ecosystems and associated fisheries of the Torres Strait.

Item ID: 35759
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1873-6955
Keywords: seagrass, dugong, turtle, benthic, nutrient, biogeography, Torres Strait
Funders: CRC Torres Strait
Date Deposited: 15 Oct 2014 16:43
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050209 Natural Resource Management @ 50%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050102 Ecosystem Function @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960501 Ecosystem Assessment and Management at Regional or Larger Scales @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960503 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Coastal and Estuarine Environments @ 50%
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