Response of seagrass indicators to shifts in environmental stressors: A global review and management synthesis

G. Roca, T. Alcoverro, D. Krause-Jensen, T.J.S. Balsby, M.M. van Katwijk, N. Marbà, R. Santos, R. Arthur, O. Mascaró, Y. Fernández-Torquemada, M. Pérez, Carlos M. Duarte, J. Romero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Scopus citations


Although seagrass-based indicators are widely used to assess coastal ecosystem status, there is little universality in their application. Matching the plethora of available indicators to specific management objectives requires a detailed knowledge of their species-specific sensitivities and their response time to environmental stressors. We conducted an extensive survey of experimental studies to determine the sensitivity and response time of seagrass indicators to ecosystem degradation and recovery. We identified seagrass size and indicator type (i.e. level of biological organization of the measure) as the main factors affecting indicator sensitivity and response time to degradation and recovery. While structural and demographic parameters (e.g. shoot density, biomass) show a high and unspecific sensitivity, biochemical/physiological indicators present more stressor-specific responses and are the most sensitive detecting early phases of environmental improvement. Based on these results we present a simple decision tree to assist ecosystem managers to match adequate and reliable indicators to specific management goals. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)310-323
Number of pages14
JournalEcological Indicators
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: This work was funded by the COST action ES0906, the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (projects CTM2010-22273-C02-01 and -02) and CSIC- 201330E062. GR was supported by a STSM of the COST Action and by a grant of Generalitat de Catalunya (Fi DGR-2012). DKJ and TJSB received funding from the European Commission (DEVOTES contract # FP-308392). This manuscript would not have seen its present form without the patient criticisms of several anonymous reviewers whose contributions we humbly acknowledge.


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