What is it about?
Seagrass is thought to originate in Southeast Asia, but how much do we really know about seagrass systems in this region? We dredged the literature and found 62 scientific papers published between 1985 and 2009 - this isn't all that great a representation at all! Most came from studies run in just a handful of sites in the Philippines and Indonesia. Furthermore, most of the papers were about backreef meadows, i.e. those in very shallow water growing on coral reefs, or landward of coral reefs. But there is an equally intriguing type of meadow on the seaward side of the reefs, which we call 'forereef seagrass systems' in this paper. We highlight one particular forereef meadow - that of Tinggi Island on the southeast coast of Peninsular Malaysia. We provide baseline information on seagrass species composition, shoot density, biomass, underwater light environment, sediment properties, and observations of faunal interactions.
Photo by Benjamin L. Jones on Unsplash
Why is it important?
We called attention to the lack of knowledge about subtidal forereef seagrass meadows in Southeast Asia, and highlighted how they are so different from the more well-studied meadows in the intertidal zone. Forereef meadows are always submerged, are made out of smaller, faster-growing species, and get much less light than backreef seagrasses. Differentiating between backreef and forereef seagrass systems is critical so that we avoid having a 'one-size-fits-all' worldview of seagrasses when devising management and conservation plans.
Read the Original
This page is a summary of: Knowledge gaps in tropical Southeast Asian seagrass systems, Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science, March 2011, Elsevier,
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