Seagrass meadows are important sources of reef island-building sediment

East, Holly, Johnson, Jamie A., Perry, C.T., Finlay, G., Musthag, A., Zahir, H. and Floyd, Matthew (2023) Seagrass meadows are important sources of reef island-building sediment. Communications Earth & Environment, 4 (1). p. 33. ISSN 2662-4435

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The future vulnerability of low-lying atoll nations is inextricably linked to the production of island-building carbonate sediments by organisms living in their adjacent marine environments. Seagrass meadows are commonly found adjacent to reef islands, but their potential role as sources of reef island-building sediments has been overlooked. Here, we quantify rates of sediment production by seagrass epibionts in a reef island sediment supply context. Total seagrass epibiont sediment production at our study site (Huvadhoo Atoll, Maldives) was 853,000 ± 90,000 kg CaCO3 yr-1 over an area of 1.1 km2. Of this total sediment production, 541,000 ± 23,000 kg CaCO3 yr-1 was estimated to be suitable to contribute to reef island building (i.e., sand-sized, post-agitation). Our findings highlight a previously unrecognised and highly valuable ecosystem service provided by tropical seagrass meadows as important potential sources of reef island-building sediment. This study, therefore, presents a new and compelling geomorphic argument for seagrass conservation.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding information: We thank the Small Island Research Group for facilitating fieldwork. This work was funded by a British Society for Geomorphology Early Career Researcher Grant to H.K. East.
Subjects: F700 Ocean Sciences
F800 Physical and Terrestrial Geographical and Environmental Sciences
Department: Faculties > Engineering and Environment > Geography and Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 30 Jan 2023 09:37
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2023 11:15

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