Seagrass meadows are a critical component of the coastal marine environment worldwide, providing some of the most economically and environmentally valuable ecosystem services of any marine habitat. These marine angiosperms form extensive meadows that store carbon, improve water quality, provide food and habitat, and act as biological indicators. These unique marine flowering plants are found mainly in clear, shallow estuaries and coastal waters where they propagate both sexually and vegetatively, with 72 species worldwide. They provide habitat for juvenile fish and shellfish and are eaten by sea turtles, dugong and manatee as well as waterfowl. Seagrasses grow both intertidally and subtidally in all the tropical and temperate ocean. Despite their importance, seagrass meadows are experiencing high rates of loss globally due to direct threats such as sedimentation, eutrophication, dredging and aquaculture, as well as diffuse threats such as water quality losses and climate change. All seagrass species have been evaluated for the IUCN Red List of Threatened and Endangered Species, with 14% at elevated risk of extinction. Strong science-based management and regulatory strategies are needed to maintain and increase seagrass habitats, as well as build their resilience to stressors in a globally changing environment.
KeywordsSeagrass Angiosperm Carbon storage Coastal habitat Submerged marine flowering plants Vascular plants Estuarine vegetation Zostera
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