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Anthropogenic pressures and life history predict trajectories of seagrass meadow extent at a global scale

Mischa P. Turschwell, Rod M. Connolly, Jillian C. Dunic, Michael Sievers, Christina A. Buelow, Ryan M. Pearson, Vivitskaia J. D. Tulloch, Isabelle M. Côté, Richard Unsworth Orcid Logo, Catherine J. Collier, Christopher J. Brown

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Volume: 118, Issue: 45, Start page: e2110802118

Swansea University Author: Richard Unsworth Orcid Logo

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Abstract

Seagrass meadows are threatened by multiple pressures, jeopardizing the many benefits they provide to humanity and biodiversity, including climate regulation and food provision through fisheries production. Conservation of seagrass requires identification of the main pressures contributing to loss a...

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Published in: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
ISSN: 0027-8424 1091-6490
Published: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2021
Online Access: Check full text

URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa58733
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Abstract: Seagrass meadows are threatened by multiple pressures, jeopardizing the many benefits they provide to humanity and biodiversity, including climate regulation and food provision through fisheries production. Conservation of seagrass requires identification of the main pressures contributing to loss and the regions most at risk of ongoing loss. Here, we model trajectories of seagrass change at the global scale and show they are related to multiple anthropogenic pressures but that trajectories vary widely with seagrass life-history strategies. Rapidly declining trajectories of seagrass meadow extent (>25% loss from 2000 to 2010) were most strongly associated with high pressures from destructive demersal fishing and poor water quality. Conversely, seagrass meadow extent was more likely to be increasing when these two pressures were low. Meadows dominated by seagrasses with persistent life-history strategies tended to have slowly changing or stable trajectories, while those with opportunistic species were more variable, with a higher probability of either rapidly declining or rapidly increasing. Global predictions of regions most at risk for decline show high-risk areas in Europe, North America, Japan, and southeast Asia, including places where comprehensive long-term monitoring data are lacking. Our results highlight where seagrass loss may be occurring unnoticed and where urgent conservation interventions are required to reverse loss and sustain their essential services. [Abstract copyright: Copyright © 2021 the Author(s). Published by PNAS.]
Keywords: ecosystem decline, global status, cumulative pressures, modeling
College: College of Science
Issue: 45
Start Page: e2110802118