Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science
Seagrass meadows are important sinks of organic carbon (Corg), in particular the near-surface Corg pool (≤ 15 cm) compared to deeper sediments. Near-surface carbon is highly susceptible to disturbance and loss to the atmosphere, however, inadequate accounting for variability in this pool of carbon limits their uptake into carbon accounting frameworks. We therefore investigated the spatial variability in seagrass near-surface Corg and biomass Corg across different geomorphic (estuary, lagoonal and reef-associated) and community typologies (pioneer and persistent). Near-surface Corg stock in vegetated areas (25.78 Mg Corg ha−1 ± 26.64) was twice that from unvegetated areas (14.27 Mg Corg ha−1 ± 15.86), reinforcing the paradigm that the presence of seagrass enhances carbon stocks. Lagoonal and reef-associated meadows showed similar Corg stocks (p > 0.05), which were substantially higher (p < 0.05) than estuary meadows. Likewise, persistent seagrass communities (Cymodocea dominance) stored higher (p < 0.05) stocks of Corg than pioneer communities (Halophila and Halodule dominance). Linear regression models showed significant but weak relationships between seagrass cover, shoot density and standing biomass with near-surface Corg stocks, whereas significant and strong relationships were observed for organic matter, dry bulk density and median grain size. The results highlight the need for higher resolution carbon assessments to better understand local and regional variability, in order to better inform carbon accounting and conservation policy.
Original Publication Citation
Alemu I, J. B., Yaakub, S. M., Yando, E. S., Lau, R. Y. S., Lim, C. C., Puah, J. Y., & Friess, D. A. (2022). Geomorphic gradients in shallow seagrass carbon stocks. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 265, 1-8, Article 107681. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecss.2021.107681
Berhane Alemu, Jahson; Maryam Yaakub, Siti; Yando, Erik S.; Yu San Lau, Rachel; Lim, Cheng Chang; Puah, Jun Yu; and Friess, Daniel A., "Geomorphic Gradients in Shallow Seagrass Carbon Stocks" (2022). Biological Sciences Faculty Publications. 476.