March 1st 2023 marks the first annual World Seagrass Day! This day was declared by the United Nations General Assembly in May 2022 following a resolution proposed by Sri Lanka to emphasize the conservation of this important marine habitat.
To celebrate World Seagrass Day, we have put together a PeerJ Highlights Collection to showcase some of the best seagrass research published in PeerJ Life & Environment over the last 10 years. We also interviewed seagrass researcher and IABO Hub editor Valentina Costa to learn more about her work studying seagrass restoration.
The IABO Hub/PeerJ Life & Environment Special Issue “The State of Active Seagrass Conservation and Restoration” is currently open for submissions. If you are a seagrass researcher and would like your work to be included, please send us your abstract via the IABO Hub before the deadline of June 2nd.
Seagrasses are the only flowering plants which grow in marine environments, and can form extensive meadows that are a key component of the marine ecosystem. Not only do they serve as a breeding and nursery ground for many important fish species – and a habitat for countless other marine organisms – but they also help provide structure to coastal regions and act as an important carbon sink. Seagrasses have been declining globally since the 1930s, with the most recent census estimating that 7 percent of seagrass coverage is being lost worldwide every year.
IABO Hub Special Issue – open for submissions!
The IABO Hub editors recently issued a call for papers for a Special Issue on “The State of Active Seagrass Conservation and Restoration”. Submit your abstract to the Hub Editorial Team – please include “Submitted to the Seagrass Special Issue” in the Note to Editor section.
Full scope and topics list can be found on the Special Issue homepage.
Abstracts will be assessed by the Hub Editorial Team; approved abstracts will be invited to make a full submission to PeerJ Life & Environment. All manuscripts accepted through the IABO Hub receive a 10% discount on the PeerJ APC, which can be used to reduce the cost of your own article or donated to the Hub Cooperative Publishing Fund to assist researchers within your community without funding.
PeerJ Highlights: World Seagrass Day.
Below are some of the articles featured in the World Seagrass Day 2023 Collection. To view the full Collection, click here.
Rosemary M. McCloskey, Richard K.F. Unsworth
Seagrass meadows globally are disappearing at a rapid rate with physical disturbances being one of the major drivers of this habitat loss. Despite being such a widespread issue, knowledge of how small scale change affects the spatial distribution and abundances of motile fauna remains limited. This study from McCloskey and Unsworth 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. They found that the faunal community composition varied significantly with increasing/decreasing cover and suggest that the impacts of small scale disturbances from factors such as anchor damage and intertidal vehicle use on seagrass meadows can have a negative impact upon associated fauna.
Microbial communities in sediment from Zostera marina patches, but not the Z. marina leaf or root microbiomes, vary in relation to distance from patch edge
Cassandra L. Ettinger, Sofie E. Voerman, Jenna M. Lang, John J. Stachowicz, Jonathan A. Eisen
Eelgrass (Zostera marina) is a foundation species in coastal and marine ecosystems worldwide, and is a model for studies of seagrasses. In recent years, there has been a growing appreciation of the potential importance of the microbial communities associated with various plant species so here, Ettinger et al. report a study of variation in Z. marina microbiomes from a field site in California. Their most significant finding is that many of the taxa that differ significantly between sampled types and sites are closely related to ones commonly associated with various aspects of sulfur and nitrogen metabolism. Though not a traditional model organism, they suggest that Z. marina can become a model for studies of marine plant-microbiome interactions.
Dugong dugon feeding in tropical Australian seagrass meadows: implications for conservation planning
Samantha J. Tol, Rob G. Coles, Bradley C. Congdon
Dugongs (Dugong dugon) are listed as vulnerable to extinction due to rapid population reductions caused in part by loss of seagrass feeding meadows. Understanding dugong feeding behaviour in tropical Australia, where the majority of dugongs live, will assist conservation strategies. The authors examined whether feeding patterns in intertidal seagrass meadows in north-eastern Australia were related to seagrass biomass, species composition and/or nitrogen content. They found that dugongs consumed seagrass species in proportion to their availability, with biomass being the primary determining factor. Species composition and/or nitrogen content influenced consumption to a lesser degree. They suggest therefore that conservation plans focused on protecting high biomass intertidal seagrass meadows are likely to be most effective at ensuring the survival of dugong in tropical north-eastern Australia.
Salinity and temperature significantly influence seed germination, seedling establishment, and seedling growth of eelgrass Zostera marina L.
Shaochun Xu, Yi Zhou, Pengmei Wang, Feng Wang, Xiaomei Zhang, Ruiting Gu
Globally, seagrass beds have been recognized as critical yet declining coastal habitats. To mitigate seagrass losses, restoration projects have been conducted worldwide, with seed utilization considered an important factor in these efforts. In this study, Xu and colleagues investigated the effects of salinity and temperature on seed germination, seedling establishment, and seedling growth of eelgrass (Zostera marina). Their results present useful information on how best to optimise Z. marina habitat establishment and restoration programs, and identifies seven stages of seed germination and seedling metamorphosis in order to characterize these growth and developmental phases.