Context-dependent community facilitation in seagrass meadows along a hydrodynamic stress gradient
Meysick, Lukas ; Ysebaert, Tom ; Jansson, Anna ; Montserrat, Francesc ; Valanko, Sebastian ; Villnäs, Anna ; Boström, Christoffer ; Norkko, Joanna ; Norkko, Alf - \ 2019
Journal of Sea Research 150-151 (2019). - ISSN 1385-1101 - p. 8 - 23.
Conditional facilitation - Ecosystem engineer - Foundation species - Habitat modification - Seagrass - Zostera marina
Foundation species host diverse associated communities by ameliorating environmental stress. The strength of this facilitative effect can be highly dependent on the underlying biotic and abiotic context. We investigated community level patterns of macrofauna associated with and adjacent to the marine foundation species eelgrass (Zostera marina) along a hydrodynamic stress gradient. We could demonstrate that the relative importance of this foundation species for its infaunal community increases with environmental variables associated with increasing hydrodynamic stress (depth, sand ripples formation, sediment grain size and organic content). Faunal assemblages in proximity to the Zostera patch edges, however, showed no (infauna) or negative (epifauna) response to hydrodynamic stress. Our study highlights that the facilitative outcome of a foundation species is conditional to the faunal assemblage in question and can be highly variable even between positions within the habitat.
Science, uncertainty and changing storylines in nature restoration : The case of seagrass restoration in the Dutch Wadden Sea
Floor, Judith R. ; Koppen, C.S.A. van; Tatenhove, J.P.M. van - \ 2018
Ocean & Coastal Management 157 (2018). - ISSN 0964-5691 - p. 227 - 236.
Action-research dilemma - Nature restoration - Seagrass - Storylines - Uncertainties - Wadden sea
Marine areas have been heavily affected by human activities, resulting in current attempts to both conserve and restore nature. In decisions about nature restoration, ecological knowledge plays a crucial role and is closely linked to nature preferences and political views. In this study, the empirical case of seagrass (Zostera marina) restoration in the Dutch Wadden Sea (1989–2017) is analysed. The impact of storylines and uncertainty perceptions, together with socio-political context factors, on decisions concerning restoration action and research are investigated. This case illustrates the difficulties of establishing seagrass fields and the dynamic process in which meaning is attributed to nature restoration. Two basic storylines – authenticity and the ecological function of ecosystem engineers – supported the restoration efforts. Three different episodes are distinguished based on different views of research in restoration efforts. The dominant perception of uncertainty was incomplete knowledge, and this perception resulted in research projects. Furthermore, the unpredictability of the success of restoration efforts and the ambiguity regarding the feasibility of restoration also influenced decisions. Two concepts – ecosystem engineer and pilot project – facilitated collaboration among science-based experts, NGOs and governmental organisations.
Exposure of coastal ecosystems to river plume spreading across a near-equatorial continental shelf
Tarya, A. ; Hoitink, A.J.F. ; Vegt, M. van der; Katwijk, M.M. van; Hoeksema, B.W. ; Bouma, T.J. ; Lamers, L.P.M. ; Christianen, M.J.A. - \ 2018
Continental Shelf Research 153 (2018). - ISSN 0278-4343 - p. 1 - 15.
Coral reef - Exposure risk - Hydrodynamic model - River plume - Seagrass
The Berau Continental Shelf (BCS) in East Kalimantan, Indonesia, harbours various tropical marine ecosystems, including mangroves, seagrass meadows and coral reefs. These ecosystem are located partly within reach of the Berau River plume, which may affect ecosystem health through exposure to land-derived sediments, nutrients and pollutants carried by the plume. This study aims (1) to assess the exposure risk of the BCS coastal ecosystems to river plume water, measured as exposure time to three different salinity levels, (2) to identify the relationships between these salinity levels and the abundance and diversity of coral and seagrass ecosystems, and (3) to determine a suitable indicator for the impacts of salinity on coral reef and seagrass health. We analysed hydrodynamic models, classified salinity levels, and quantified the correlations between the salinity model parameters and ecological metrics for the BCS systems. An Empirical Orthogonal Functions (EOF) analysis revealed three modes of river plume dispersal patterns, which strongly reflect monsoon seasonality. The first mode, explaining 39% of the variability, was associated with the southward movement of the plume due to northerly winds, while the second and third modes (explaining 29% and 26% of the variability, respectively) were associated with the northeastward migration of the plume related to southwesterly and southerly winds. Exposure to low salinity showed higher correlations with biological indicators than mean salinity, indicating that low salinity is a more suitable indicator for coastal ecosystem health. Significant correlations (R2) were found between exposure time to low salinity (days with salinity values below 25 PSU) with coral cover, coral species richness, seagrass cover, the number of seagrass species, seagrass leaf phosphorus, nitrogen, C:N ratio and iron content. By comparing the correlation coefficients and the slopes of the regression lines, our study suggests that coral reefs are more susceptible to low salinity levels exposure than seagrass meadows. Regarding the risk of corals being exposed to low salinity, nearshore and northern barrier reefs were classified as “high risk” the middle barrier reef as “medium to high risk” and southern barrier reefs as “medium risk”. Further offshore, the oceanic reefs were classified as “low risk”. Regarding the seagrass meadows, the nearshore region was categorized as “high risk” the barrier reef as “medium to low risk” and oceanic reefs as “low risk”. This study contributes to assessing the potential impacts of salinity on the BCS ecosystems, and further provides a knowledge base for marine conservation planning.
Seagrass leaf element content : A global overview
Vonk, J.A. ; Smulders, Fee O.H. ; Christianen, Marjolijn J.A. ; Govers, Laura L. - \ 2018
Marine Pollution Bulletin 134 (2018). - ISSN 0025-326X - p. 123 - 133.
Environmental adaptation - Evolutionary history - Micronutrients - Plant physiology - Seagrass - Successional stage
Knowledge on the role of seagrass leaf elements and in particular micronutrients and their ranges is limited. We present a global database, consisting of 1126 unique leaf values for ten elements, obtained from literature and unpublished data, spanning 25 different seagrass species from 28 countries. The overall order of average element values in seagrass leaves was Na. >. K. >. Ca. >. Mg. >. S. >. Fe. >. Al. >. Si. >. Mn. >. Zn. Although we observed differences in leaf element content between seagrass families, high intraspecific variation indicated that leaf element content was more strongly determined by environmental factors than by evolutionary history. Early successional species had high leaf Al and Fe content. In addition, seagrass leaf element content also showed correlations with macronutrients (N and P), indicating that productivity also depends on other elements. Expected genomes of additional seagrass species in combination with experiments manipulating (micro)nutrients and environmental drivers might enable us to unravel the importance of various elements to sustain productive and flourishing meadows.
Seagrass ecosystem trajectory depends on the relative timescales of resistance, recovery and disturbance
O'Brien, Katherine R. ; Waycott, Michelle ; Maxwell, Paul ; Kendrick, Gary A. ; Udy, James W. ; Ferguson, Angus J.P. ; Kilminster, Kieryn ; Scanes, Peter ; McKenzie, Len J. ; McMahon, Kathryn ; Adams, Matthew P. ; Samper-Villarreal, Jimena ; Collier, Catherine ; Lyons, Mitchell ; Mumby, Peter J. ; Radke, Lynda ; Christianen, Marjolijn J.A. ; Dennison, William C. - \ 2018
Marine Pollution Bulletin 134 (2018). - ISSN 0025-326X - p. 166 - 176.
Colonizing - Opportunistic - Persistent - Recovery - Resilience - Resistance - Seagrass - Trajectory
Seagrass ecosystems are inherently dynamic, responding to environmental change across a range of scales. Habitat requirements of seagrass are well defined, but less is known about their ability to resist disturbance. Specific means of recovery after loss are particularly difficult to quantify. Here we assess the resistance and recovery capacity of 12 seagrass genera. We document four classic trajectories of degradation and recovery for seagrass ecosystems, illustrated with examples from around the world. Recovery can be rapid once conditions improve, but seagrass absence at landscape scales may persist for many decades, perpetuated by feedbacks and/or lack of seed or plant propagules to initiate recovery. It can be difficult to distinguish between slow recovery, recalcitrant degradation, and the need for a window of opportunity to trigger recovery. We propose a framework synthesizing how the spatial and temporal scales of both disturbance and seagrass response affect ecosystem trajectory and hence resilience.
Herbivory on freshwater and marine macrophytes : A review and perspective
Bakker, Elisabeth S. ; Wood, Kevin A. ; Pagès, Jordi F. ; Veen, G.F. ; Christianen, Marjolijn J.A. ; Santamaría, Luis ; Nolet, Bart A. ; Hilt, Sabine - \ 2016
Aquatic Botany 135 (2016). - ISSN 0304-3770 - p. 18 - 36.
Climate change - Conservation - Ecosystem functions - Grazing - Seagrass - Stoichiometry
Until the 1990s, herbivory on aquatic vascular plants was considered to be of minor importance, and the predominant view was that freshwater and marine macrophytes did not take part in the food web: their primary fate was the detritivorous pathway. In the last 25 years, a substantial body of evidence has developed that shows that herbivory is an important factor in the ecology of vascular macrophytes across freshwater and marine habitats. Herbivores remove on average 40–48% of plant biomass in freshwater and marine ecosystems, which is typically 5–10 times greater than reported for terrestrial ecosystems. This may be explained by the lower C:N stoichiometry found in submerged plants. Herbivores affect plant abundance and species composition by grazing and bioturbation and therewith alter the functioning of aquatic ecosystems, including biogeochemical cycling, carbon stocks and primary production, transport of nutrients and propagules across ecosystem boundaries, habitat for other organisms and the level of shoreline protection by macrophyte beds. With ongoing global environmental change, herbivore impacts are predicted to increase. There are pressing needs to improve our management of undesirable herbivore impacts on macrophytes (e.g. leading to an ecosystem collapse), and the conflicts between people associated with the impacts of charismatic mega-herbivores. While simultaneously, the long-term future of maintaining both viable herbivore populations and plant beds should be addressed, as both belong in complete ecosystems and have co-evolved in these long before the increasing influence of man. Better integration of the freshwater, marine, and terrestrial herbivory literatures would greatly benefit future research efforts.
Post-settlement life cycle migration patterns and habitat preference of coral reef fish that use seagrass and mangrove habitats as nurseries
Cocheret De La Morinière, E. ; Pollux, B.J.A. ; Nagelkerken, I. ; Velde, G. Van Der - \ 2002
Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science 55 (2002)2. - ISSN 0272-7714 - p. 309 - 321.
Caribbean Sea - Coral reef - Curaçao - Fish - Mangrove swamps - Migration - Nursery grounds - Seagrass
Mangroves and seagrass beds have received considerable attention as nurseries for reef fish, but comparisons have often been made with different methodologies. Thus, relative importance of different habitats to specific size-classes of reef fish species remains unclear. In this study, 35 transects in 11 sites of mangroves, seagrass beds and coral reef were surveyed daily, in and in front of a marine bay on the island of Curaçao (Netherlands Antilles). The density and size-frequency of nine reef fish species (including herbivores, zoobenthivores and piscivores) was determined during a five-month period using a single methodology, viz. underwater visual census. All species were 'nursery species' in terms of their high densities of juveniles in mangroves or seagrass beds. Relative density distribution of the size-classes of the selected species over mangroves and seagrass beds suggested high levels of preference for either mangroves or seagrass beds of some species, while other species used both habitats as a nursery. Spatial size distribution of the nine species suggested three possible models for Post-settlement Life Cycle Migrations (PLCM). Haemulon sciurus, Lutjanus griseus, L. apodus, and Acanthurus chirurgus appear to settle and grow up in bay habitats such as mangroves and seagrass beds, and in a later stage migrate to the coral reef (Long Distance PLCM). Juveniles of Acanthurus bahianus and Scarus taeniopterus were found only in bay habitats at close proximity to the coral reef or on the reef itself, and their migration pattern concerns a limited spatial scale (Short Distance PLCM). Some congeneric species carry out either Long Distance PLCM or Short Distance PLCM, thereby temporarily alleviating competition in reef habitats. Haemulon flavolineatum, Ocyurus chrysurus and Scarus iserti displayed a Stepwise PLCM pattern in which smallest juveniles dwell in the mouth of the bay, larger individuals then move to habitats deeper into the bay, where they grow up to a (sub-) adult size at which they migrate to nearby coral reef habitats. This type of stepwise migration in opposite directions, combined with different preference for either mangroves or seagrass beds among (size-classes of) species, shows that reef fish using in-bay habitats during post-settlement life stages may do so by choice and not merely because of stochastic dispersal of their larvae, and underline the necessity of these habitats to Caribbean coral reef systems.