Making Seagrass Ecosystems Stronger

Written by on September 23, 2015 in Other News

A new study from Swansea University concludes that we need to “put achieving ecosystem resilience at the top of the agenda” in order to successfully manage and protect marine ecosystems.

Seagrass. Photo credit: NOAA.

Seagrass. Photo credit: NOAA.

Ecosystem (or ecological) resilience is a term used to describe an ecosystem’s ability to withstand or bounce back from repeated disturbances or shocks without transforming into a fundamentally different state. As our climate continues to change, the ability to recover from trauma is increasingly important. This new study examined the resilience of seagrass meadows and discussed how to manage them effectively.

Seagrass meadows are an important resource. They are highly productive areas that act as fish nurseries, provide important food and shelter for marine life, store carbon dioxide and pump oxygen back into the air, and protect coastlines from erosion. Unfortunately, seagrass meadows are declining worldwide. Researchers, led by Swansea University’s Dr. Richard Unsworth, examined over 150 sources in academic literature and found that in order to halt this degradation, management of seagrass systems need a “radical change”.

They suggest moving beyond the traditional Marine Protected Area approach — establishing specific areas where we can control human activities — and focusing on increasing resiliency instead. The good news is that the researchers also outline a series of simple actions that decision-makers and managers can use to improve seagrass ecosystem resilience.

Seagrass Ecosystem Resilience. Credit Swansea University.

Seagrass Ecosystem Resilience. Credit Swansea University.

“The resilience of marine ecosystems is influenced by many factors, such as the health and proximity of adjacent habitats; the water quality; the supply of larvae and the presence of human disturbance,” Dr. Unsworth explained in a news release. “Management of biodiverse and important marine ecosystems like seagrass needs to consider more than just simple location specific protection, but instead consider the biological and environmental influences beyond the extent of its distribution.”

To learn more:

Copyright © 2015 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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