Seagrass ecology at the turn of the millennium: Challenges for the new century

Carlos M. Duarte*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Scopus citations


A review of the literature on seagrass ecology produced over the past decade (1989-1997) showed a sustained increase in the scientific production in international journals, with a doubling of the annual publication rate every four years. This production is highly concentrated in Aquatic Botany and three other journals (>50% of papers), involving contributors from 33 countries. Research efforts are growing rapidly in W. Europe, the Mediterranean Sea, the Caribbean Sea, and Australia. Studies on seagrass ecology also increase in NW America and SE Asia. Development of research is particularly strong in themes such as disturbance of seagrass meadows, and their growth, biogeochemistry and population dynamics. Yet, seagrass ecology is a rather imbalanced science, with half of the production produced by scientists from only two countries, examining only 10% of the seagrass flora from two biogeographic areas. Seagrass ecology is dominated by descriptive research (>60% of papers), with a paucity of efforts to synthesize results and derive general relationships. These characteristics result in a present lack of predictive ability, and scientific basis for the management of seagrass ecosystems. Coordination of research efforts in seagrass ecology has been limited, such that great uncertainty arises when scaling up the knowledge produced locally to assess seagrass resources at regional and global scales. Seagrass ecology must progress from the present descriptive stage to synthesis, either through large-scale comparative analyses or the formulation of general models, yielding the power to predict the time course of seagrass decline and recovery and the role of seagrass meadows in the ecosystem. The development of a cooperative framework should contribute to expanding the scale of the research, develop the capacity to conduct new relevant research, establish a global network monitoring seagrass resources, and incorporate seagrass ecosystems into international programs examining the health and functioning of the oceans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7-20
Number of pages14
JournalAquatic Botany
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - Nov 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Bibliometry
  • Geographical distribution
  • Research effort
  • Seagrass
  • Species coverage
  • Topics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Plant Science


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