Diversity of European seagrass indicators: Patterns within and across regions

Núria Marbà*, Dorte Krause-Jensen, Teresa Alcoverro, Sebastian Birk, Are Pedersen, Joao M. Neto, Sotiris Orfanidis, Joxe M. Garmendia, Iñigo Muxika, Angel Borja, Kristina Dencheva, Carlos M. Duarte

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Scopus citations


Seagrasses are key components of coastal marine ecosystems and many monitoring programmes worldwide assess seagrass health and apply seagrasses as indicators of environmental status. This study aims at identifying the diversity and characteristics of seagrass indicators in use within and across European ecoregions in order to provide an overview of seagrass monitoring effort in Europe. We identified 49 seagrass indicators used in 42 monitoring programmes and including a total of 51 metrics. The seagrass metrics represented 6 broad categories covering different seagrass organizational levels and spatial scales. The large diversity is particularly striking considering that the pan-European Water Framework Directive sets common demands for the presence and abundance of seagrasses and related disturbance-sensitive species. The diversity of indicators reduces the possibility to provide pan-European overviews of the status of seagrass ecosystems. The diversity can be partially justified by differences in species, differences in habitat conditions and associated communities but also seems to be determined by tradition. Within each European region, we strongly encourage the evaluation of seagrass indicator-pressure responses and quantification of the uncertainty of classification associated to the indicator in order to identify the most effective seagrass indicators for assessing ecological quality of coastal and transitional water bodies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)265-278
Number of pages14
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Cymodocea nodosa
  • European Water Framework Directive
  • Metrics
  • Monitoring
  • Posidonia oceanica
  • Zostera marina
  • Zostera noltii

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science


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