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No detectable impact of small-scale disturbances on ‘blue carbon’ within seagrass beds

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-18, 07:59 authored by Macreadie, PI, York, PH, Sherman, CDH, Keough, MJ, Donald RossDonald Ross, Ricart, AM, Smith, TM
Seagrass meadows are among the most efficient and long-term carbon sinks on earth, but disturbances could threaten this capacity, so understanding the impacts of disturbance on carbon stored within seagrass meadows—‘blue carbon’—is of prime importance. To date, there have been no published studies on the impacts of seagrass loss on ‘blue carbon’ stocks. We experimentally created several kinds of small-scale disturbances, representative of common grazer and boating impacts, within seagrass (Zostera nigracaulis) meadows in Port Phillip Bay (Australia) and measured the impacts on sediment organic carbon stocks (‘C org’, and other geochemical variables—%N, δ13C, δ15N). Disturbance had no detectable effect on C org levels within seagrass sediments, even for high-intensity disturbance treatments, which remained bare (i.e. no seagrass recovery) for 2 years after the disturbance. These findings challenge the widely held assumption that disturbance and concomitant loss of seagrass habitat cause release of carbon, at least for small-scale disturbances. We suggest that larger (e.g. meadow scale) disturbances may be required to trigger losses of ‘blue carbon’ from seagrass meadows.

History

Publication title

Marine Biology

Volume

161

Issue

12

Pagination

2939-2944

ISSN

0025-3162

Department/School

Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies

Publisher

Springer-Verlag

Place of publication

175 Fifth Ave, New York, USA, Ny, 10010

Rights statement

Copyright 2014 Crown Copyirght as represented by University of Technology, Sydney.

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Climate change mitigation strategies

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