New tools to identify the location of seagrass meadows: Marine grazers as habitat indicators

Graeme C. Hays*, Teresa Alcoverro, Marjolijn J.A. Christianen, Carlos M. Duarte, Mark Hamann, Peter I. Macreadie, Helene D. Marsh, Michael A. Rasheed, Michele Thums, Richard K.F. Unsworth, Paul H. York, Nicole Esteban

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations

Abstract

Seagrasses are hugely valuable to human life, but the global extent of seagrass meadows remains unclear. As evidence of their value, a United Nations program exists (http://data.unep-wcmc.org/datasets/7) to try and assess their distribution and there has been a call from 122 scientists across 28 countries for more work to manage, protect and monitor seagrass meadows (http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-37606827). Emerging from the 12th International Seagrass Biology Workshop, held in October 2016, has been the view that grazing marine megafauna may play a useful role in helping to identify previously unknown seagrass habitats. Here we describe this concept, showing how detailed information on the distribution of both dugongs (Dugong dugon) and green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) obtained, for example, by aerial surveys and satellite tracking, can reveal new information on the location of seagrass meadows. We show examples of how marine megaherbivores have been effective habitat indicators, revealing major, new, deep-water seagrass meadows and offering the potential for more informed estimates of seagrass extent in tropical and sub-tropical regions where current information is often lacking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9
JournalFRONTIERS IN MARINE SCIENCE
Volume4
Issue numberFEB
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 21 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Hays, Alcoverro, Christianen, Duarte, Hamann, Macreadie, Marsh, Rasheed, Thums, Unsworth, York and Esteban.

Keywords

  • Animal movement
  • Benthic habitat mapping
  • Blue carbon
  • Climate change mitigation
  • Drone surveys
  • Ecosystem services
  • Satellite tracking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Aquatic Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Ocean Engineering

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