New tools to identify the location of seagrass meadows: marine grazers as habitat indicators

Hays, Graeme C., Alcoverro, Teresa, Christianen, Marjolijn J.A., Duarte, Carlos M., Hamann, Mark, Macreadie, Peter I., Marsh, Helene D., Rasheed, Michael A., Thums, Michele, Unsworth, Richard K.F., York, Paul H., and Esteban, Nicole (2018) New tools to identify the location of seagrass meadows: marine grazers as habitat indicators. Frontiers in Marine Science, 5.

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Abstract

Seagrasses are hugely valuable to human life, but the global extent of seagrass meadows remains unclear. As evidence of their value, a United Nations program exists (http://data.unep-wcmc.org/datasets/7) to try and assess their distribution and there has been a call from 122 scientists across 28 countries for more work to manage, protect and monitor seagrass meadows (http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-37606827). Emerging from the 12th International Seagrass Biology Workshop, held in October 2016 has been the view that grazing marine megafauna may play a useful role in helping to identify previously unknown seagrass habitats. Here we describe this concept, showing how detailed information on the distribution of both dugongs (Dugong dugon) and green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) obtained, for example, by aerial surveys and satellite tracking, can reveal new information on the location of seagrass meadows. We show examples of how marine megaherbivores have been effective habitat indicators, revealing major, new, deep-water seagrass meadows and offering the potential for more informed estimates of seagrass extent in tropical and sub-tropical regions where current information is often lacking.

Item ID: 51865
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: ecosystem services, drone surveys, satellite tracking, animal movement, benthic habitat mapping
Additional Information:

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

ISSN: 2296-7745
Funders: Bertarelli Foundation, Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC LP160100492
Date Deposited: 22 Feb 2018 03:36
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 60%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050104 Landscape Ecology @ 40%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960507 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments @ 100%
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