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Open accessJournal ArticleDOI: 10.3389/FPLS.2021.629962

Historical Analysis Exposes Catastrophic Seagrass Loss for the United Kingdom.

04 Mar 2021-Frontiers in Plant Science (Frontiers Media S.A.)-Vol. 12, pp 629962-629962
Abstract: The spatial extent of seagrass is poorly mapped, and knowledge of historical loss is limited. Here, we collated empirical and qualitative data using systematic review methods to provide unique analysis on seagrass occurrence and loss in the United Kingdom. We document 8,493 ha of recently mapped seagrass in the United Kingdom since 1998. This equates to an estimated 0.9 Mt of carbon, which, in the current carbon market represents about £22 million. Using simple models to estimate seagrass declines triangulated against habitat suitability models, we provide evidence of catastrophic seagrass loss; at least 44% of United Kingdom's seagrasses have been lost since 1936, 39% since the 1980's. However, losses over longer time spans may be as high as 92%. Based on these estimates, historical seagrass meadows could have stored 11.5 Mt of carbon and supported approximately 400 million fish. Our results demonstrate the vast scale of losses and highlight the opportunities to restore seagrass to support a range of ecosystems services.

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Topics: Blue carbon (52%), Seagrass (51%)
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Open accessJournal ArticleDOI: 10.1016/J.ECOLIND.2021.108141
Abstract: Global-scale conservation initiatives and policy instruments rely on ecosystem indicators to track progress towards targets and objectives. A deeper understanding of indicator interrelationships would benefit these efforts and help characterize ecosystem status. We study interrelationships among 34 indicators for mangroves, saltmarsh, and seagrass ecosystems, and develop data-driven, spatially explicit typologies of coastal wetland status at a global scale. After accounting for environmental covariates and gap-filling missing data, we obtained two levels of clustering at 5 and 18 typologies, providing outputs at different scales for different end users. We generated 2,845 cells (1° (lat) × 1° (long)) globally, of which 29.7% were characterized by high land- and marine-based impacts and a high proportion of threatened species, 13.5% by high climate-based impacts, and 9.6% were refuges with lower impacts, high fish density and a low proportion of threatened species. We identify instances where specific actions could have positive outcomes for coastal wetlands across regions facing similar issues. For example, land- and marine-based threats to coastal wetlands were associated with ecological structure and function indicators, suggesting that reducing these threats may reduce habitat degradation and threats to species persistence. However, several interdimensional relationships might be affected by temporal or spatial mismatches in data. Weak relationships mean that global biodiversity maps that categorize areas by single indicators (such as threats or trends in habitat size) may not be representative of changes in other indicators (e.g., ecosystem function). By simplifying the complex global mosaic of coastal wetland status and identifying regions with similar issues that could benefit from knowledge exchange across national boundaries, we help set the scene for globally and regionally coordinated conservation.

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Topics: Habitat destruction (54%), Threatened species (52%), Global biodiversity (52%) ... show more

1 Citations


Open accessJournal ArticleDOI: 10.3390/D13080363
06 Aug 2021-Diversity
Abstract: Seagrass meadows are known to be rich in fauna, with complex food webs that provide trophic subsidy to species and habitats way beyond the extent of their distribution. Birds are an often-overlooked part of marine ecosystems; not only are they crucial to the health of marine ecosystems, but their populations are also supported by the productivity and biodiversity of marine ecosystems. The links of birds to specific habitat types such as seagrass meadows are largely not considered except in the context of direct herbivorous consumption. Here, we examine the linkages between seagrass and birds and propose a conceptual framework for how seagrasses may support bird populations beyond their distribution in both direct and indirect pathways. We present evidence that seagrass meadows are globally foraged for fish and invertebrates by coastal birds. They are also targeted by herbivorous wildfowl and potentially benefit birds further afield indirectly as a result of their support for offshore marine fish species at critical times in their life cycle (e.g., Atlantic Cod and King George Whiting). Evidence from the literature indicates that seagrass does provide support for birds, but reveals a field of research requiring much gap filling as studies are globally sparse, mechanistically limited, and small in spatial and temporal scales.

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Topics: Seagrass (57%), Marine ecosystem (54%), Biodiversity (52%) ... show more

1 Citations


Journal ArticleDOI: 10.1016/J.JHAZMAT.2021.127312
Chunming Li1, Hanchen Wang1, Xiaolin Liao2, Rong Xiao3  +4 moreInstitutions (5)
Abstract: Coastal wetlands are ecosystems lying between land and ocean and are subject to inputs of heavy metals (HMs) from terrestrial, oceanic and atmospheric sources. Although the study on HM pollution in coastal wetlands has been rapidly developing over the past three decades, systematic reviews are still unavailable. Here, by analyzing 3343 articles published between 1990 and 2019, we provided the first holistic systematic review of studies on HM pollution in coastal wetlands globally. The results showed a trend of rapid increases in publications in this field globally, especially over the past ten years. Trends varied greatly among coastal countries, and global trends were primarily driven by the US before 2000, and in China after 2010. We also found that mercury (Hg), cadmium (Cd), and copper (Cu) were the most widely studied HM elements globally, but patterns differed geographically, with Hg being most widely examined in the Americas, Cd in China and India, and lead (Pb) in the western Europe and Australia, respectively. Among different types of coastal wetlands, salt marshes, mangrove forests, and estuaries were the most widely studied, in contrast to seagrass beds and tidal flats. As for ecosystem components, soils/sediments and plants were most extensively investigated, while algae, microbes, and animals were much less examined. Our analysis further revealed rapid emergence of topics on anthropogenic sources, interactions with other anthropogenic environmental changes (climate change in particular), and control and remediation methodology in the literature in the recent ten years. Moving forward, we highlight that future studies are needed to i) better understand the impacts of HM pollution in less studied coastal wetland systems and species, ii) deepen current understanding of the biogeochemical behaviors of HMs under anthropogenic activities, iii) examine interactions with other anthropogenic environmental changes, iv) conceive ecological remediation (i.e., "ecoremediation" as compared to traditional physiochemical remediation and bioremediation) strategies, and v) develop advanced analysis instruments and methods. The perspectives we brought forward can help stimulate many new advances in this field.

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Topics: Wetland (53%), Salt marsh (51%)

1 Citations


Journal ArticleDOI: 10.1016/J.BIOCON.2021.109366
Adrian C. Newton1, Robert Britton1, Kimberley Davies1, Anita Diaz1  +11 moreInstitutions (1)
Abstract: Concern is growing about ecosystem collapse, namely the abrupt decline or loss of an ecosystem resulting from human activities. While efforts to assess the risk of ecosystem collapse have developed at large spatial scales, less attention has been given to the local scales at which conservation management decisions are typically made. Development of appropriate management responses to ecosystem collapse has been limited by uncertainty regarding how collapse may best be identified, together with its underlying causes. Here we operationalise ecosystem collapse for conservation practice by providing a robust definition of collapse, in a form that is relevant to the scale of conservation decision-making. We provide an overview of different causes of collapse, and then explore the implications of this understanding for conservation practice, by examining potential management responses. This is achieved through development of a decision tree, which we illustrate through a series of case studies. We also explore the role of indicators for the early detection of collapse and for monitoring the effectiveness of management responses. Ecosystem collapse represents a significant challenge to conservation practice, as abrupt changes in ecosystem structure, function and composition can occur with little warning, leading to profound impacts on both biodiversity and human society. The risks of ecosystem collapse are likely to increase in future, as multiple forms of environmental change continue to intensify. We suggest that selection of management responses should be based on an understanding of the causal mechanisms responsible for collapse, which can be identified through appropriate monitoring and research activities.

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Topics: Collapse (medical) (52%)

1 Citations


Journal ArticleDOI: 10.1016/J.MARPOLBUL.2021.112936
Abstract: Seagrasses grow in shallow marine and estuarine environments worldwide, providing multiple ecosystem services. However, a global trend of seagrass loss has been documented. Thus, increasing awareness of seagrass value is crucial for the sustainability of these vital ecosystems. This study aims to contribute to the creation of a seagrass-literate society, by defining key principles and concepts in relation to seagrasses that a seagrass-literate person should know. Six principles about seagrasses were defined. Each one is underpinned by a set of concepts. These principles and concepts concern key issues of seagrass biology (Principles 1-4), value (Principles 3-5), loss and protection (Principle 5), and research (Principle 6). Seagrass principles and concepts can be primarily used for educational purposes and as a practical resource to policy- and decision- makers. Our attempt could stimulate a collaborative effort of scientists and educators, aiming to improve the recommended principles and concepts, and to contribute to seagrass conservation.

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Topics: Sustainability (50%)

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51 results found


Open accessJournal ArticleDOI: 10.1073/PNAS.0905620106
Abstract: Coastal ecosystems and the services they provide are adversely affected by a wide variety of human activities. In particular, seagrass meadows are negatively affected by impacts accruing from the billion or more people who live within 50 km of them. Seagrass meadows provide important ecosystem services, including an estimated $1.9 trillion per year in the form of nutrient cycling; an order of magnitude enhancement of coral reef fish productivity; a habitat for thousands of fish, bird, and invertebrate species; and a major food source for endangered dugong, manatee, and green turtle. Although individual impacts from coastal development, degraded water quality, and climate change have been documented, there has been no quantitative global assessment of seagrass loss until now. Our comprehensive global assessment of 215 studies found that seagrasses have been disappearing at a rate of 110 km(2) yr(-1) since 1980 and that 29% of the known areal extent has disappeared since seagrass areas were initially recorded in 1879. Furthermore, rates of decline have accelerated from a median of 0.9% yr(-1) before 1940 to 7% yr(-1) since 1990. Seagrass loss rates are comparable to those reported for mangroves, coral reefs, and tropical rainforests and place seagrass meadows among the most threatened ecosystems on earth.

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Topics: Seagrass (59%), Blue carbon (56%), Amphibolis antarctica (55%) ... show more

2,617 Citations


Journal ArticleDOI: 10.1016/S0169-5347(00)89171-5
Abstract: F isheries have recently become a topic for media with global audiences-but then again, fisheries are a global disaster: one of the few that affect, in very similar fashion, developed countries with well-established administrative and scientific infrastructure, newly industrialized countries , and developing countries. This is quickly summarized: l Heavily subsidized fleets, exceeding by a factor of 2 or 3 the numbers required to harvest nominal annual catches of about 90 million tonnes. l Staggering levels of discarded bycatch, representing about one third of the nominal catch, a large unrecorded catch that perhaps raises the true global catch to about 150 million tonnes per year, well past most previous estimates of global potential. l The collapse, depletion or recovery from previous depletion of the overwhelming majority of the over 260 fish stocks that are monitored by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Fisheries science has responded as well as it could to the challenge this poses by developing methods for estimating targets for management-earlier the fabled Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY)l, now annual total allowable catch (TAC) or individual transferable quotas (ITQ). If these methods are to remain effective, fisheries scientists need to follow closely the behavior of fishers and fleets, but this has tended increasingly to separate us from the biologists studying marine or freshwater organisms and/or communities, and to factor out ecological and evolutionary considerations from our models. There are obviously exceptions to this, but 1 believe the rule generally applies, and it can be illustrated by our lack of an explicit model accounting for what may be called the 'shifting baseline syndrome'. Essentially, this syndrome has arisen because each generation of fisheries scientists accepts as a baseline the stock size and species composition that occurred at the beginning of their careers, and uses this to evaluate changes. When the next generation starts its career, the stocks have further declined, but it is the stocks at that time that serve as a new baseline. The result obviously is a gradual shift of the baseline, a gradual accommodation of the creeping disappearance of resource species, and inappropriate reference points for evaluating economic losses resulting from overfishing, or for identifying targets for rehabilitation measures. These are strong claims that 1 can illustrate best by using analogies. For example, astronomy has a framework that uses ancient observations (including Sumerian and Chinese records that are thousands of years old) of …

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Topics: Shifting baseline (62%)

1,849 Citations


Open accessJournal ArticleDOI: 10.1890/110004
Elizabeth Mcleod1, Gail L. Chmura2, Steven Bouillon3, Rodney Salm1  +6 moreInstitutions (9)
Abstract: Recent research has highlighted the valuable role that coastal and marine ecosystems play in sequestering carbon dioxide (CO(2)). The carbon (C) sequestered in vegetated coastal ecosystems, specifically mangrove forests, seagrass beds, and salt marshes, has been termed blue carbon. Although their global area is one to two orders of magnitude smaller than that of terrestrial forests, the contribution of vegetated coastal habitats per unit area to long-term C sequestration is much greater, in part because of their efficiency in trapping suspended matter and associated organic C during tidal inundation. Despite the value of mangrove forests, seagrass beds, and salt marshes in sequestering C, and the other goods and services they provide, these systems are being lost at critical rates and action is urgently needed to prevent further degradation and loss. Recognition of the C sequestration value of vegetated coastal ecosystems provides a strong argument for their protection and restoration; however, it is necessary to improve scientific understanding of the underlying mechanisms that control C sequestration in these ecosystems. Here, we identify key areas of uncertainty and specific actions needed to address them.

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Topics: Blue carbon (63%), Marine ecosystem (54%), Salt marsh (53%)

1,751 Citations


Journal ArticleDOI: 10.1038/NGEO1477
01 Jul 2012-Nature Geoscience
Abstract: Seagrass meadows are some of the most productive ecosystems on Earth. An analysis of organic carbon data from just under one thousand seagrass meadows indicates that, globally, these systems could store between 4.2 and 8.4 Pg carbon.

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Topics: Blue carbon (58%), Seagrass (54%), Ecosystem (50%)

1,050 Citations


Journal ArticleDOI: 10.1016/J.MARPOLBUL.2006.09.006
Abstract: Main potential impacts on seagrasses from dredging and sand mining include physical removal and/or burial of vegetation and effects of increased turbidity and sedimentation. For seagrasses, the critical threshold for turbidity and sedimentation, as well as the duration that seagrasses can survive periods of high turbidity or excessive sedimentation vary greatly among species. Larger, slow-growing climax species with substantial carbohydrate reserves show greater resilience to such events than smaller opportunistic species, but the latter display much faster post-dredging recovery when water quality conditions return to their original state. A review of 45 case studies worldwide, accounting for a total loss of 21,023 ha of seagrass vegetation due to dredging, is indicative of the scale of the impact of dredging on seagrasses. In recent years, tighter control in the form of strict regulations, proper enforcement and monitoring, and mitigating measures together with proper impact assessment and development of new environmental dredging techniques help to prevent or minimize adverse impacts on seagrasses. Costs of such measures are difficult to estimate, but seem negligible in comparison with costs of seagrass restoration programmes, which are typically small-scale in approach and often have limited success. Copying of dredging criteria used in one geographic area to a dredging operation in another may in some cases lead to exaggerated limitations resulting in unnecessary costs and delays in dredging operations, or in other cases could prove damaging to seagrass ecosystems. Meaningful criteria to limit the extent and turbidity of dredging plumes and their effects will always require site-specific evaluations and should take into account the natural variability of local background turbidity. 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Topics: Dredging (55%)

449 Citations


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