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Losses and recovery of organic carbon from a seagrass ecosystem following disturbance

Macreadie, Peter I., Trevathan-Tackett, Stacey M., Skilbeck, Charles G., Sanderman, Jonathan, Curlevski, Nathalie, Jacobsen, Gerladine and Seymour, Justin R. 2015, Losses and recovery of organic carbon from a seagrass ecosystem following disturbance, Proceedings of the Royal Society B : biological sciences, vol. 282, no. 1817, Article Number : 20151537, pp. 1-6, doi: 10.1098/rspb.2015.1537.

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Title Losses and recovery of organic carbon from a seagrass ecosystem following disturbance
Author(s) Macreadie, Peter I.ORCID iD for Macreadie, Peter I. orcid.org/0000-0001-7362-0882
Trevathan-Tackett, Stacey M.
Skilbeck, Charles G.
Sanderman, Jonathan
Curlevski, Nathalie
Jacobsen, Gerladine
Seymour, Justin R.
Journal name Proceedings of the Royal Society B : biological sciences
Volume number 282
Issue number 1817
Season Article Number : 20151537
Start page 1
End page 6
Total pages 6
Publisher The Royal Society
Place of publication London, Eng.
Publication date 2015-10
ISSN 1471-2954
Keyword(s) bacteria
blue carbon
carbon sink
disturbance
restoration
seagrass
Summary Seagrasses are among the Earth's most efficient and long-term carbon sinks, but coastal development threatens this capacity. We report new evidence that disturbance to seagrass ecosystems causes release of ancient carbon. In a seagrass ecosystem that had been disturbed 50 years ago, we found that soil carbon stocks declined by 72%, which, according to radiocarbon dating, had taken hundreds to thousands of years to accumulate. Disturbed soils harboured different benthic bacterial communities (according to 16S rRNA sequence analysis), with higher proportions of aerobic heterotrophs compared with undisturbed. Fingerprinting of the carbon (via stable isotopes) suggested that the contribution of autochthonous carbon (carbon produced through plant primary production) to the soil carbon pool was less in disturbed areas compared with seagrass and recovered areas. Seagrass areas that had recovered from disturbance had slightly lower (35%) carbon levels than undisturbed, but more than twice as much as the disturbed areas, which is encouraging for restoration efforts. Slow rates of seagrass recovery imply the need to transplant seagrass, rather than waiting for recovery via natural processes. This study empirically demonstrates that disturbance to seagrass ecosystems can cause release of ancient carbon, with potentially major global warming consequences.
Language eng
DOI 10.1098/rspb.2015.1537
Field of Research 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology)
06 Biological Sciences
11 Medical And Health Sciences
07 Agricultural And Veterinary Sciences
Socio Economic Objective 960903 Coastal and Estuarine Water Management
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2015, The Royal Society
Free to Read? Yes
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30079914

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Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.