Tracking changes in tropical intertidal seagrass meadows
Team members: Rachana Rao, Elrika D’Souza, Evan Nazareth, Rajeswari B.T., Wenzel Pinto, Teresa Alcoverro
Project timeline: 2019 - Present
Seagrasses are the only true marine flowering plants. There are over 65 species of seagrasses that occupy less than 0.2% area of the world’s ocean. They occur in all coastal waters except Antarctica, from intertidal beds to depths of 90m in the sea.
Seagrasses are amongst the most valued ecosystems. They play an important role in carbon storage, along with other coastal ecosystems, at rates greater than many terrestrial systems. They also aid in coastal protection, fisheries and enhanced biodiversity.
Despite the enormous services they provide, seagrasses have largely been overlooked and face extreme threats due to climate disaster and more so due to human disturbances. The rate at which we are losing seagrass cover has only accelerated from 0.9% in the 1940s to 7% since the 1990s, making it close to a loss of 10 million football fields worth the area. This has further affected a myriad of species dependent on this system including humans.
While bulk of this knowledge of seagrasses comes from the temperate meadows, which are typically single-species, how tropical meadows, that show both monospecific and multi-species assemblages, respond to climate change and human disturbances remains a gaping lacuna.
Through this long-term monitoring study, we assess how tropical seagrass systems respond to abiotic and biotic factors over time given the threats they are facing due to global climate crisis and human disturbances.
To track seagrass species distribution along the underlying abiotic gradients overtime.
- To track seasonal changes in seagrass species composition and distribution.
- To track species phenology (shoot density, root density, flowering, fruiting, seed presence across seasons) along the abiotic gradients.
- To track species morphological traits (leaf length, leaf width, biomass) across seasons along the abiotic gradients.
Funders: LTEO, Moefcc