Measuring the role of seagrasses in regulating sediment surface elevation

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  • Hilary Kennedy
  • Mark Huxham
    Edinburgh Napier University
  • Karen Diele
    Edinburgh Napier University
  • Maria Potouroglou
    Edinburgh Napier University
  • Michael Githaiga
    Edinburgh Napier University
  • James Bull
    Swansea University
  • Ken Krauss
    US Geological Survey
  • Marco Fusi
    King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia
  • Daniele Daffonchio
    King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia
  • Mwita Mangora
    Institute of Marine Sciences, University of Dar es Salaam
Seagrass meadows provide numerous ecosystem services and their rapid global loss may reduce human welfare as well as ecological integrity. In common with the other ‘blue carbon’ habitats (mangroves and tidal marshes) seagrasses are thought to provide coastal defence and encourage sediment stabilisation and surface elevation. A sophisticated understanding of sediment elevation dynamics in mangroves and tidal marshes has been gained by monitoring a wide range of different sites, located in varying hydrogeomorphological conditions over long periods. In contrast, similar evidence for seagrasses is sparse; the present study is a contribution towards filling this gap. Surface elevation change pins were deployed in four locations, Scotland, Kenya, Tanzania and Saudi Arabia, in both seagrass and unvegetated control plots in the low intertidal and shallow subtidal zone. The presence of seagrass had a highly significant, positive impact on surface elevation at all sites. Combined data from the current work and the literature show an average difference of 31 mm per year in elevation rates between vegetated and unvegetated areas, which emphasizes the important contribution of seagrass in facilitating sediment surface elevation and reducing erosion. This paper presents the first multi-site study for sediment surface elevation in seagrasses in different settings and species.
Original languageEnglish
Article number11917
JournalScientific Reports
Volume7
Early online date20 Sep 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2017

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