Anthropogenic pressures and life history predict trajectories of seagrass meadow extent at a global scale

Turschwell, Mischa P., Connolly, Rod M., Dunic, Jillian C., Sievers, Michael, Buelow, Christina A., Pearson, Ryan M., Tulloch, Vivitskaia J.D., Cote, Isabelle M., Unsworth, Richard K.F., Collier, Catherine J., and Brown, Christopher J. (2021) Anthropogenic pressures and life history predict trajectories of seagrass meadow extent at a global scale. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 118 (45). e2110802118.

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Seagrass meadows are threatened by multiple pressures, jeopardizing the many benefits they provide to humanity and biodiversity, including climate regulation and food provision through fisheries production. Conservation of seagrass requires identification of the main pressures contributing to loss and the regions most at risk of ongoing loss. Here, we model trajectories of seagrass change at the global scale and show they are related to multiple anthropogenic pressures but that trajectories vary widely with seagrass life-history strategies. Rapidly declining trajectories of seagrass meadow extent (>25% loss from 2000 to 2010) were most strongly associated with high pressures from destructive demersal fishing and poor water quality. Conversely, seagrass meadow extent was more likely to be increasing when these two pressures were low. Meadows dominated by seagrasses with persistent life-history strategies tended to have slowly changing or stable trajectories, while those with opportunistic species were more variable, with a higher probability of either rapidly declining or rapidly increasing. Global predictions of regions most at risk for decline show high-risk areas in Europe, North America, Japan, and southeast Asia, including places where comprehensive long-term monitoring data are lacking. Our results highlight where seagrass loss may be occurring unnoticed and where urgent conservation interventions are required to reverse loss and sustain their essential services.

Item ID: 72117
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1091-6490
Keywords: ecosystem decline, global status, cumulative pressures, modeling
Copyright Information: This open access article is distributed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial No Derivatives License 4.0 (CC BY-NC-ND).
Date Deposited: 09 Feb 2022 08:45
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