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The fundamental role of ecological feedback mechanisms for the adaptive management of seagrass ecosystems - a review / Paul S. Maxwell, Johan S. Eklöf, Marieke M. van Katwijk, Katherine R. O'Brien, Maricela de la Torre-Castro, Christoffer Boström, Tjeerd J. Bouma, Dorte Krause-Jensen, Richard Unsworth, Brigitta I. van Tussenbroek, Tjisse van der Heide

Biological Reviews

Swansea University Author: Richard Unsworth

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DOI (Published version): 10.1111/brv.12294

Abstract

Seagrass meadows are vital ecosystems in coastal zones worldwide, but are also under global threat. One of the major hurdles restricting the success of seagrass conservation and restoration is our limited understanding of ecological feedback mechanisms. In these ecosystems, multiple, self-reinforcin...

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Published in: Biological Reviews
ISSN: 14647931
Published: 2016
Online Access: Check full text

URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa30235
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Abstract: Seagrass meadows are vital ecosystems in coastal zones worldwide, but are also under global threat. One of the major hurdles restricting the success of seagrass conservation and restoration is our limited understanding of ecological feedback mechanisms. In these ecosystems, multiple, self-reinforcing feedbacks can undermine conservation efforts by masking environmental impacts until the decline is precipitous, or alternatively they can inhibit seagrass recovery in spite of restoration efforts. However, no clear framework yet exists for identifying or dealing with feedbacks to improve the management of seagrass ecosystems. Here we review the causes and consequences of multiple feedbacks between seagrass and biotic and/or abiotic processes. We demonstrate how feedbacks have the potential to impose or reinforce regimes of either seagrass dominance or unvegetated substrate, and how the strength and importance of these feedbacks vary across environmental gradients. Although a myriad of feedbacks have now been identified, the co-occurrence and likely interaction among feedbacks has largely been overlooked to date due to difficulties in analysis and detection. Here we take a fundamental step forward by modelling the interactions among two distinct above- and belowground feedbacks to demonstrate that interacting feedbacks are likely to be important for ecosystem resilience. On this basis, we propose a five-step adaptive management plan to address feedback dynamics for effective conservation and restoration strategies. The management plan provides guidance to aid in the identification and prioritisation of likely feedbacks in different seagrass ecosystems.
Keywords: resilience, seagrass, feedbacks, marine
College: College of Science