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Smith College

Publication Date

Spring 2016

Program Name

Australia: Rainforest, Reef, and Cultural Ecology

Abstract

Seagrass meadows are extremely valuable and dynamic ecosystems currently facing pressure from anthropogenic disturbances. Seagrass ecosystems are declining globally because of direct and indirect threats that shift environmental conditions controlling seagrass distribution. Seagrass species responses to disturbances vary based on a number of factors including life history strategy. The goal of this study was to map and analyze patterns of dominant seagrass species change at Cairns and Gladstone from 2005-2014 and Townsville from 2007-2014. This compilation data set was symbolized according to the life history strategy of the species. The major disturbances during this time period were physical damage from cyclones and the associated above average rainfall and river flow, which caused large losses in the percent of sites surveyed where seagrass was found. These disturbances shaped the successional patterns observed. Most of the enduring meadows in these ports were composed of the colonizing/opportunistic species, Z. capricorni and H. uninervis. Opportunistic and persistent species, such as C. serrulata and T. hemprichii, were both seen less frequently in these ports. The colonizing species, H. ovalis and H. decipiens, were frequently observed colonizing spaced cleared during disturbance. The patterns of succession observed around Cairns, Townsville, and Gladstone support the life-history classifications of the species.

Disciplines

Biodiversity | Biosecurity | Climate | Environmental Health and Protection | Marine Biology | Meteorology | Plant Sciences | Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology

 

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