No detectable impact of small‑scale disturbances on 'blue carbon' within seagrass beds

Macreadie, Peter I., York, Paul H., Sherman, Craig D.H., Keough, Michael J., Ross, D. Jeff, Ricart, Aurora M., and Smith, Timothy M. (2014) No detectable impact of small‑scale disturbances on 'blue carbon' within seagrass beds. Marine Biology, 161 (12). pp. 2939-2944.

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Abstract

Seagrass meadows are among the most efficient and long-term carbon sinks on earth, but disturbances could threaten this capacity, so understanding the impacts of disturbance on carbon stored within seagrass meadows—'blue carbon'—is of prime importance. To date, there have been no published studies on the impacts of seagrass loss on 'blue carbon' stocks. We experimentally created several kinds of small-scale disturbances, representative of common grazer and boating impacts, within seagrass (Zostera nigracaulis) meadows in Port Phillip Bay (Australia) and measured the impacts on sediment organic carbon stocks ('C org', and other geochemical variables—%N, δ13C, δ15N). Disturbance had no detectable effect on C org levels within seagrass sediments, even for high-intensity disturbance treatments, which remained bare (i.e. no seagrass recovery) for 2 years after the disturbance. These findings challenge the widely held assumption that disturbance and concomitant loss of seagrass habitat cause release of carbon, at least for small-scale disturbances. We suggest that larger (e.g. meadow scale) disturbances may be required to trigger losses of ‘blue carbon’ from seagrass meadows.

Item ID: 36565
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: seagrass; blue carbon
ISSN: 1432-1793
Funders: Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment, Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC DECRA Fellowship DE130101084
Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2014 04:06
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0503 Soil Sciences > 050301 Carbon Sequestration Science @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960302 Climate Change Mitigation Strategies @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9606 Environmental and Natural Resource Evaluation > 960601 Economic Incentives for Environmental Protection @ 30%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960503 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Coastal and Estuarine Environments @ 20%
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