Measuring the role of seagrasses in regulating sediment surface elevation

Maria Potouroglou, James C. Bull, Ken W. Krauss, Hilary A. Kennedy, Marco Fusi, Daniele Daffonchio, Mwita M. Mangora, Michael N. Githaiga, Karen Diele, Mark Huxham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Scopus citations


Seagrass meadows provide numerous ecosystem services and their rapid global loss may reduce human welfare as well as ecological integrity. In common with the other 'blue carbon' habitats (mangroves and tidal marshes) seagrasses are thought to provide coastal defence and encourage sediment stabilisation and surface elevation. A sophisticated understanding of sediment elevation dynamics in mangroves and tidal marshes has been gained by monitoring a wide range of different sites, located in varying hydrogeomorphological conditions over long periods. In contrast, similar evidence for seagrasses is sparse; the present study is a contribution towards filling this gap. Surface elevation change pins were deployed in four locations, Scotland, Kenya, Tanzania and Saudi Arabia, in both seagrass and unvegetated control plots in the low intertidal and shallow subtidal zone. The presence of seagrass had a highly significant, positive impact on surface elevation at all sites. Combined data from the current work and the literature show an average difference of 31 mm per year in elevation rates between vegetated and unvegetated areas, which emphasizes the important contribution of seagrass in facilitating sediment surface elevation and reducing erosion. This paper presents the first multi-site study for sediment surface elevation in seagrasses in different settings and species.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 13 2017

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: The inception of the current study was made possible through funding (grant reference SG178) received under MASTS Small Grants Scheme (The Marine Alliance for Science and for Scotland), and its support is gratefully acknowledged. MP was supported by the Natural Environment Research Council NE/K501207/1. MF and DD were supported by DD baseline funding from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). NMG was supported by the Coastal Ecosystem Services in East Africa (CESEA) NE/L001535/1 research project and was funded with support from the Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) programme. The ESPA programme is funded by the Department for International Development (DFID), the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). The study was also supported by the Global Environment Facility’s Blue Forests Project, an initiative of UN Environment, focused on harnessing the values associated with coastal carbon and ecosystem services to achieve climate resilient communities around the globe ( Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.


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