Impact of mooring activities on carbon stocks in seagrass meadows

O. Serrano, R. Ruhon, P. S. Lavery, Gary Kendrick, Sharyn Hickey, Pere Masque Barri, A. Arias-Ortiz, A. Steven, C. M. Duarte

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Abstract

Boating activities are one of the causes that threaten seagrass meadows and the ecosystem services they provide. Mechanical destruction of seagrass habitats may also trigger the erosion of sedimentary organic carbon (C-org) stocks, which may contribute to increasing atmospheric CO2. This study presents the first estimates of loss of C-org stocks in seagrass meadows due to mooring activities in Rottnest Island, Western Australia. Sediment cores were sampled from seagrass meadows and from bare but previously vegetated sediments underneath moorings. The C-org stores have been compromised by the mooring deployment from 1930s onwards, which involved both the erosion of existing sedimentary C-org stores and the lack of further accumulation of C-org. On average, undisturbed meadows had accumulated similar to 6.4 Kg C-org m(-2) in the upper 50 cm-thick deposits at a rate of 34 g C-org m(-2) yr(-1). The comparison of C-org stores between meadows and mooring scars allows us to estimate a loss of 4.8 kg C-org m(-2) in the 50 cm-thick deposits accumulated over ca. 200 yr as a result of mooring deployments. These results provide key data for the implementation of C-org storage credit offset policies to avoid the conversion of seagrass ecosystems and contribute to their preservation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number23193
JournalScientific Reports
Volume6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Mar 2016

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    Serrano, O., Ruhon, R., Lavery, P. S., Kendrick, G., Hickey, S., Masque Barri, P., Arias-Ortiz, A., Steven, A., & Duarte, C. M. (2016). Impact of mooring activities on carbon stocks in seagrass meadows. Scientific Reports, 6, [23193]. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep23193