Habitat suitability modelling to improve understanding of seagrass loss and recovery and to guide decisions in relation to coastal discharge

Paul L. A. Erftemeijer, Jos van Gils, Milena B. Fernandes, Rob Daly, Luuk van der Heijden, Peter M. J. Herman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Habitat suitability modelling was used to test the relationship between coastal discharges and seagrass occurrence based on data from Adelaide (South Australia). Seven variables (benthic light including epiphyte shading, temperature, salinity, substrate, wave exposure, currents and tidal exposure) were simulated using a coupled hydrodynamic-biogeochemical model and interrogated against literature-derived thresholds for nine local seagrass species. Light availability was the most critical driver across the study area but wave exposure played a key role in shallow nearshore areas. Model validation against seagrass mapping data showed 86 % goodness-of-fit. Comparison against later mapping data suggested that modelling could predict similar to 745 ha of seagrass recovery in areas previously classified as 'false positives'. These results suggest that habitat suitability modelling is reliable to test scenarios and predict seagrass response to reduction of land-based loads, providing a useful tool to guide (investment) decisions to prevent loss and promote recovery of seagrasses.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114370
Number of pages17
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Volume186
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023

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