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Monitoring of a protected multi-specific tropical seagrass meadow reveals a pattern of decline and recovery
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3973-1703
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences.
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Abstract [en]

In a changing environment, there is an increasing interest to monitor ecosystems to understand their responses to environmental change. Seagrass meadows are highly important ecosystems, but at the same time they are under a constant threat from human activities, as well as climate impacts, and marked declines have been observed worldwide. Despite increasing efforts, monitoring of multi-specific tropical seagrass meadows is scarce, particularly in developing regions. Here we analysed data from the first 10 years of a monitoring programme in a marine protected area in Zanzibar (Tanzania) to assess temporal changes in seagrass cover and species composition and to detect potential drivers of change. The seagrass meadow experienced a strong gradual decline in seagrass cover and changes in species composition, followed by a period of recovery. However, the timing and length of these temporal patterns varied in space (between transects). Of the climate variables considered, cloud cover, temperature, storm occurrence, sunspot activity and the height of the diurnal low tide seemed to influence seagrass cover, although only to a small extent, suggesting that the monitored seagrass meadow may be influenced by other unmeasured factors. Considering our results, seagrass meadows seem to be highly dynamic at small spatial scales even in the absence of major local anthropogenic impacts. Further monitoring programmes should be developed in the region to gain a better understanding of seagrass temporal variability and causes of change.

National Category
Biological Sciences
Research subject
Marine Ecology
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URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-154964OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-154964DiVA, id: diva2:1196072
Available from: 2018-04-09 Created: 2018-04-09 Last updated: 2018-04-10Bibliographically approved
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Alonso Aller, ElisaEklöf, Johan S.Gullström, MartinNordlund, Lina M.
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CiteExportLink to record
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