Dugong dugon feeding in tropical Australian seagrass meadows: implications for conservation planning

Tol, Samantha J., Coles, Rob G., and Congdon, Bradley C. (2016) Dugong dugon feeding in tropical Australian seagrass meadows: implications for conservation planning. PeerJ, 4. e2194.

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Abstract

Dugongs (Dugong dugon) are listed as vulnerable to extinction due to rapid population reductions caused in part by loss of seagrass feeding meadows. Understanding dugong feeding behaviour in tropical Australia, where the majority of dugongs live, will assist conservation strategies. We examined whether feeding patterns in intertidal seagrass meadows in tropical north-eastern Australia were related to seagrass biomass, species composition and/or nitrogen content. The total biomass of each seagrass species removed by feeding dugongs was measured and compared to its relative availability. Nitrogen concentrations were also determined for each seagrass species present at the sites. Dugongs consumed seagrass species in proportion to their availability, with biomass being the primary determining factor. Species composition and/or nitrogen content influenced consumption to a lesser degree. Conservation plans focused on protecting high biomass intertidal seagrass meadows are likely to be most effective at ensuring the survival of dugong in tropical north-eastern Australia.

Item ID: 44504
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2167-8359
Date Deposited: 19 Jul 2016 01:34
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060201 Behavioural Ecology @ 70%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 30%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960802 Coastal and Estuarine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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