Seagrass ecosystems of the Pacific Island countries and territories: a global bright spot

McKenzie, Len, Yoshida, Rudi L., Aini, John W., Andrefouet, Serge, Colin, Patrick L., Cullen-unsworth, Leanne C., Hughes, Alec T., Payri, Claude E., Rota, Manibua, Shaw, Christina, Skelton, Posa A., Tsuda, Roy T., Vuki, Veikila C., and Unsworth, Richard K.F. (2021) Seagrass ecosystems of the Pacific Island countries and territories: a global bright spot. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 167. 112308.

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Abstract

Seagrass ecosystems exist throughout Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs). Despite this area covering nearly 8% of the global ocean, information on seagrass distribution, biogeography, and status remains largely absent from the scientific literature. We confirm 16 seagrass species occur across 17 of the 22 PICTs with the highest number in Melanesia, followed by Micronesia and Polynesia respectively. The greatest diversity of seagrass occurs in Papua New Guinea (13 species), and attenuates eastward across the Pacific to two species in French Polynesia. We conservatively estimate seagrass extent to be 1446.2 km2, with the greatest extent (84%) in Melanesia. We find seagrass condition in 65% of PICTs increasing or displaying no discernible trend since records began. Marine conservation across the region overwhelmingly focuses on coral reefs, with seagrass ecosystems marginalised in conservation legislation and policy. Traditional knowledge is playing a greater role in managing local seagrass resources and these approaches are having greater success than contemporary conservation approaches. In a world where the future of seagrass ecosystems is looking progressively dire, the Pacific Islands appears as a global bright spot, where pressures remain relatively low and seagrass more resilient.

Item ID: 67917
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1879-3363
Keywords: Seagrass; Ecosystem services; Habitats; Threats; Resilience; Management; DPSIR
Copyright Information: © 2021 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)
Date Deposited: 15 Jul 2021 02:37
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4101 Climate change impacts and adaptation > 410102 Ecological impacts of climate change and ecological adaptation @ 20%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410402 Environmental assessment and monitoring @ 50%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410404 Environmental management @ 30%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1805 Marine systems and management > 180501 Assessment and management of benthic marine ecosystems @ 75%
18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1805 Marine systems and management > 180504 Marine biodiversity @ 25%
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