Long distance biotic dispersal of tropical seagrass seeds by marine mega-herbivores

Tol, Samantha J., Jarvis, Jessie C., York, Paul H., Grech, Alana, Congdon, Bradley C., and Coles, Robert G. (2017) Long distance biotic dispersal of tropical seagrass seeds by marine mega-herbivores. Scientific Reports, 7. pp. 1-8.

[img]
Preview
PDF (Published Version) - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (1MB) | Preview
View at Publisher Website: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-044...
 
5
39


Abstract

Terrestrial plants use an array of animals as vectors for dispersal, however little is known of biotic dispersal of marine angiosperms such as seagrasses. Our study in the Great Barrier Reef confirms for the first time that dugongs (Dugong dugon) and green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) assist seagrass dispersal. We demonstrate that these marine mega-herbivores consume and pass in faecal matter viable seeds for at least three seagrass species (Zostera muelleri, Halodule uninervis and Halophila decipiens). One to two seagrass seeds per g DW of faecal matter were found during the peak of the seagrass reproductive season (September to December), with viability on excretion of 9.13% ± 4.61% (SE). Using population estimates for these mega-herbivores, and data on digestion time (hrs), average daily movement (km h) and numbers of viable seagrass seeds excreted (per g DW), we calculated potential seagrass seed dispersal distances. Dugongs and green sea turtle populations within this region can disperse >500,000 viable seagrass seeds daily, with a maximum dispersal distance of approximately 650 km. Biotic dispersal of tropical seagrass seeds by dugongs and green sea turtles provides a large-scale mechanism that enhances connectivity among seagrass meadows, and aids in resilience and recovery of these coastal habitats.

Item ID: 49484
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: seagrass; turtle; dugong; dispersal; seed; mega-herbivore
Additional Information:

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

ISSN: 2045-2322
Funders: SeaWorld Research and Rescue Foundation, Holsworth Wildlife Research, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA)
Research Data: http://dx.doi.org/10.4225/28/57ABBA449E639
Date Deposited: 03 Jul 2017 22:24
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050102 Ecosystem Function @ 30%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 40%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050104 Landscape Ecology @ 30%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960507 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments @ 50%
Downloads: Total: 39
Last 12 Months: 9
More Statistics

Actions (Repository Staff Only)

Item Control Page Item Control Page