Essay about The Ecological and Economical Importance of Seagrass

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Seagrass is on the decline around the world and it is an extremely vital marine ecosystem found in shallow water mainly distributed throughout tropical seas, from a temperature around 4oC to 24oC (Green and Short 2003). They are the only true flowering plant (angiosperm) to live in aquatic conditions providing support and shelter for vast amounts of species (Orth et al. 2006; Jackson et al. 2001). They are a marine aquatic plant and a keystone species for many coastal areas found all over the world (Libralato, Christensen and Pauly 2006). Although there is not a huge variety of species, there are only around 60 species globally and over 14% of them are endangered (Green and Short 2003; Orth et al. 2006). The different
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2006). It also indirectly provides a nutrient storage and restricts excess nutrients from phytoplankton by sequestering it from the surrounding environment, which in turn helps prevent the formation of algal blooms (Hughes et al. 2008).

Seagrass acts as a sediment stabilizer as the seagrass canopy slows the water flow and currents, allowing planktonic larvae, sediment and organic matter to settle (Hemminga and Duarte 2000; Turner and Schwarz 2006). The stability of the sea floor is helped by the extensive rhizome system which seagrasses have as they travel vertically and horizontally through the ocean floor, redirecting sea pathways (Larkum et al 2006; Turner and Schwarz 2006). Areas where there is no seagrass are vulnerable and prevent erosion against sea storms, waves and currents (Larkum et al. 2006). There are often a number of contributing factors that are increasing the decline of seagrasses, both natural and anthropogenic (Walker, Kendrick and McComb 2006). Multiple stressors are being placed on the seagrass from global warming to earthquakes, such as: increased tidal surges. larger storms, increased surface temperature, tsunamis and hurricanes (Kemp et al. 2005). These are all contributing factors which can lead to a decline in seagrass. A large storm or sea surge can uproot the seagrass from the ocean floor, leading to a loss in biodiversity. Mass use of fertilizers from

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