, Volume 704, Issue 1, pp 265–278 | Cite as

Diversity of European seagrass indicators: patterns within and across regions

  • Núria Marbà
  • Dorte Krause-Jensen
  • Teresa Alcoverro
  • Sebastian Birk
  • Are Pedersen
  • Joao M. Neto
  • Sotiris Orfanidis
  • Joxe M. Garmendia
  • Iñigo Muxika
  • Angel Borja
  • Kristina Dencheva
  • Carlos M. Duarte


Seagrasses are key components of coastal marine ecosystems and many monitoring programmes worldwide assess seagrass health and apply seagrasses as indicators of environmental status. This study aims at identifying the diversity and characteristics of seagrass indicators in use within and across European ecoregions in order to provide an overview of seagrass monitoring effort in Europe. We identified 49 seagrass indicators used in 42 monitoring programmes and including a total of 51 metrics. The seagrass metrics represented 6 broad categories covering different seagrass organizational levels and spatial scales. The large diversity is particularly striking considering that the pan-European Water Framework Directive sets common demands for the presence and abundance of seagrasses and related disturbance-sensitive species. The diversity of indicators reduces the possibility to provide pan-European overviews of the status of seagrass ecosystems. The diversity can be partially justified by differences in species, differences in habitat conditions and associated communities but also seems to be determined by tradition. Within each European region, we strongly encourage the evaluation of seagrass indicator–pressure responses and quantification of the uncertainty of classification associated to the indicator in order to identify the most effective seagrass indicators for assessing ecological quality of coastal and transitional water bodies.


Monitoring Zostera marina Zostera noltii Cymodocea nodosa Posidonia oceanica European Water Framework Directive Metrics 



This study was funded by the European project WISER (Water bodies in Europe: Integrative Systems to assess Ecological status and Recovery; funded under the 7th EU Framework Programmeme, Theme 6 (Environment including Climate Change), Contract No.: 226273), and the COST Action (Seagrass productivity: from genes to ecosystem management; COST Action ES0906). We thank an anonymous reviewer and L.R. Carvalho for useful comments on the ms.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Núria Marbà
    • 1
  • Dorte Krause-Jensen
    • 2
  • Teresa Alcoverro
    • 3
  • Sebastian Birk
    • 4
  • Are Pedersen
    • 5
  • Joao M. Neto
    • 6
  • Sotiris Orfanidis
    • 7
  • Joxe M. Garmendia
    • 8
  • Iñigo Muxika
    • 8
  • Angel Borja
    • 8
  • Kristina Dencheva
    • 9
  • Carlos M. Duarte
    • 1
    • 10
  1. 1.Department of Global Change Research, IMEDEA (CSIC-UIB)Institut Mediterrani d’Estudis AvançatsEsporlesSpain
  2. 2.National Environmental Research Institute, Department of Marine EcologyAarhus UniversityRoskildeDenmark
  3. 3.Department of Marine EcologyCentre d’Estudis Avançats de Blanes (CEAB-CSIC)BlanesSpain
  4. 4.Department of Applied Zoology/HydrobiologyUniversity of Duisburg-EssenEssenGermany
  5. 5.NIVAOsloNorway
  6. 6.Department of Life Sciences, IMAR—Institute of Marine Research (CMA)University of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal
  7. 7.National Agricultural Research FoundationFisheries Research InstituteNea PeramosGreece
  8. 8.AZTI-Tecnalia, Herrera KaiaPasaiaSpain
  9. 9.Institute of OceanologyBulgarian Academy of SciencesVarnaBulgaria
  10. 10.UWA Oceans InstituteThe University of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia

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