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

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journal contribution
posted on 2018-02-21, 00:00 authored by Graeme HaysGraeme Hays, T Alcoverro, M J A Christianen, C M Duarte, M Hamann, Peter MacreadiePeter Macreadie, H D Marsh, M A Rasheed, M Thums, R K F Unsworth, P H York, N Esteban
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.

History

Journal

Frontiers in marine science

Volume

5

Article number

9

Pagination

1 - 6

Publisher

Frontiers Research Foundation

Location

Lausanne, Switzerland

ISSN

2296-7745

eISSN

2296-7745

Language

eng

Publication classification

C Journal article; C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2018, The Authors