Community-specific "desired" states for seagrasses through cycles of loss and recovery

Carter, Alex B., Collier, Catherine, Coles, Robert, Lawrence, Emma, and Rasheed, Michael A. (2022) Community-specific "desired" states for seagrasses through cycles of loss and recovery. Journal of Environmental Management, 314. 115059.

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Seagrass habitats provide critical ecosystem services, yet there is ongoing concern over mounting pressures and continuing degradation. Defining a desired state for these habitats is a key step in implementing appropriate management but is often difficult given the challenges of available data and an evaluation of where to set benchmarks. We use more than 20 years of historical seagrass biomass data (1995–2018) for the diverse seagrass communities of Australia's Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area (GBRWHA) to develop desired state benchmarks. Desired state for seagrass biomass was estimated for 25 of 36 previously defined seagrass communities with the remainder having insufficient data. Desired state varied by more than one order of magnitude between community types and was influenced by the mix of species in the communities and the range of environmental conditions. We identify a historical, decadal-scale cycle of decline with recovery to desired state in coastal intertidal communities. In contrast a number of the estuary and coastal subtidal communities have not recovered to desired state biomass. Understanding a historical context is critically important for setting benchmarks and making informed management decisions on the present state of seagrass in the GBRWHA. The approach we have developed is scalable for monitoring, management and assessment of pressures for other management areas and for other jurisdictions. Our results guide conservation planning through prioritization of the at-risk seagrass communities that are continuing to fall below their desired state.

Item ID: 74471
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1095-8630
Keywords: Biomass, Great Barrier Reef, Seagrass, Targets, Tropical
Copyright Information: © 2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (
Date Deposited: 31 Oct 2022 02:56
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410405 Environmental rehabilitation and restoration @ 30%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410404 Environmental management @ 70%
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