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Decreasing seagrass density negatively influences associated fauna

Rosemary M. McCloskey, Richard Unsworth Orcid Logo

PeerJ, Volume: 3, Start page: e1053

Swansea University Author: Richard Unsworth Orcid Logo

DOI (Published version): 10.7717/peerj.1053

Abstract

Seagrass meadows globally are disappearing at a rapid rate with physical disturbances being one of the major drivers of this habitat loss. Disturbance of seagrass can lead to fragmentation, a reduction in shoot density, canopy height and coverage, and potentially permanent loss of habitat. Despite b...

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Published in: PeerJ
Published: 2015
URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa23458
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first_indexed 2015-09-24T02:08:53Z
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spelling 2018-01-08T14:17:40.5951406 v2 23458 2015-09-23 Decreasing seagrass density negatively influences associated fauna b0f33acd13a3ab541cf2aaea27f4fc2f 0000-0003-0036-9724 Richard Unsworth Richard Unsworth true false 2015-09-23 SBI Seagrass meadows globally are disappearing at a rapid rate with physical disturbances being one of the major drivers of this habitat loss. Disturbance of seagrass can lead to fragmentation, a reduction in shoot density, canopy height and coverage, and potentially permanent loss of habitat. Despite being such a widespread issue, knowledge of how such small scale change affects the spatial distribution and abundances of motile fauna remains limited. The present study investigated fish and macro faunal community response patterns to a range of habitat variables (shoot length, cover and density), including individual species habitat preferences within a disturbed and patchy intertidal seagrass meadow. Multivariate analysis showed a measurable effect of variable seagrass cover on the abundance and distribution of the fauna, with species specific preferences to both high and low seagrass cover seagrass. The faunal community composition varied significantly with increasing/decreasing cover. The faunal species composition of low cover seagrass was more similar to sandy control plots than to higher cover seagrass. Shannon Wiener Diversity (H′) and species richness was significantly higher in high cover seagrass than in low cover seagrass, indicating increasing habitat value as density increases. The results of this study underline how the impacts of small scale disturbances from factors such as anchor damage, boat moorings and intertidal vehicle use on seagrass meadows that reduce shoot density and cover can impact upon associated fauna. These impacts have negative consequences for the delivery of ecosystem services such as the provision of nursery habitat. Journal Article PeerJ 3 e1053 23 6 2015 2015-06-23 10.7717/peerj.1053 COLLEGE NANME Biosciences COLLEGE CODE SBI Swansea University 2018-01-08T14:17:40.5951406 2015-09-23T12:01:34.3476766 College of Science Biosciences Rosemary M. McCloskey 1 Richard Unsworth 0000-0003-0036-9724 2 0023458-03112017085949.pdf peerj-1053.pdf 2017-11-03T08:59:49.3370000 Output 10982632 application/pdf Version of Record true 2017-11-03T00:00:00.0000000 Open access under CC BY licence true eng
title Decreasing seagrass density negatively influences associated fauna
spellingShingle Decreasing seagrass density negatively influences associated fauna
Richard Unsworth
title_short Decreasing seagrass density negatively influences associated fauna
title_full Decreasing seagrass density negatively influences associated fauna
title_fullStr Decreasing seagrass density negatively influences associated fauna
title_full_unstemmed Decreasing seagrass density negatively influences associated fauna
title_sort Decreasing seagrass density negatively influences associated fauna
author_id_str_mv b0f33acd13a3ab541cf2aaea27f4fc2f
author_id_fullname_str_mv b0f33acd13a3ab541cf2aaea27f4fc2f_***_Richard Unsworth
author Richard Unsworth
author2 Rosemary M. McCloskey
Richard Unsworth
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description Seagrass meadows globally are disappearing at a rapid rate with physical disturbances being one of the major drivers of this habitat loss. Disturbance of seagrass can lead to fragmentation, a reduction in shoot density, canopy height and coverage, and potentially permanent loss of habitat. Despite being such a widespread issue, knowledge of how such small scale change affects the spatial distribution and abundances of motile fauna remains limited. The present study investigated fish and macro faunal community response patterns to a range of habitat variables (shoot length, cover and density), including individual species habitat preferences within a disturbed and patchy intertidal seagrass meadow. Multivariate analysis showed a measurable effect of variable seagrass cover on the abundance and distribution of the fauna, with species specific preferences to both high and low seagrass cover seagrass. The faunal community composition varied significantly with increasing/decreasing cover. The faunal species composition of low cover seagrass was more similar to sandy control plots than to higher cover seagrass. Shannon Wiener Diversity (H′) and species richness was significantly higher in high cover seagrass than in low cover seagrass, indicating increasing habitat value as density increases. The results of this study underline how the impacts of small scale disturbances from factors such as anchor damage, boat moorings and intertidal vehicle use on seagrass meadows that reduce shoot density and cover can impact upon associated fauna. These impacts have negative consequences for the delivery of ecosystem services such as the provision of nursery habitat.
published_date 2015-06-23T03:33:51Z
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