Seagrass community metabolism: Assessing the carbon sink capacity of seagrass meadows

Carlos M. Duarte, Núria Marbà, Esperança Gacia, James W. Fourqurean, Jeff Beggins, Cristina Barrón, Eugenia T. Apostolaki

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401 Scopus citations


The metabolic rates of seagrass communities were synthesized on the basis of a data set on seagrass community metabolism containing 403 individual estimates derived from a total of 155 different sites. Gross primary production (GPP) rates (mean SE = 224.9 11.1 mmol O2 m-2 d -1) tended to be significantly higher than the corresponding respiration (R) rates (mean SE = 187.6 10.1 mmol O2 m-2 d-1), indicating that seagrass meadows tend to be autotrophic ecosystems, reflected in a positive mean net community production (NCP 27.2 5.8 mmol O2 m-2 d-1) and a mean P/R ratio above 1 (1.55 0.13). Tropical seagrass meadows tended to support higher metabolic rates and somewhat lower NCP than temperate ones. The P/R ratio tended to increase with increasing GPP, exceeding, on average, the value of 1 indicative of metabolic balance for communities supporting a GPP greater than 186 mmol O 2 m-2 d-1, on average. The global NCP of seagrass meadows ranged (95% confidence limits of mean values) from 20.73 to 50.69 Tg C yr-1 considering a low global seagrass area of 300,000 km2 and 41.47 to 101.39 Tg C yr-1 when a high estimate of global seagrass area of 600,000 km2 was considered. The global loss of 29% of the seagrass area represents, therefore, a major loss of intense natural carbon sinks in the biosphere.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberGB4032
JournalGlobal Biogeochemical Cycles
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Environmental Science
  • Atmospheric Science


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