SA scientists join forces to solve seagrass mystery
The work is a testament to the collaboration of more than 60 researchers from across Australia, says Adelaide Coastal Waters Study Director Professor David Fox.
Professor Fox says the final report, released by the SA Government on Friday, provides an integrated understanding of the Adelaide coastal system from which to guide future management actions.
The work, co-ordinated by CSIRO, was initiated in 2001 to investigate the loss of more than 5000 hectares of shallow sub-tidal seagrass since the mid 1930s and 1940s.
The study involved a wide range of stakeholders and research organisations. It found that many years of near–continuous inputs of nutrient–rich, turbid and coloured water, and wastewater, have resulted in significant changes to and degradation of Adelaide’s coastal marine environment.
“This study has focused on the loss of seagrass, mainly Amphibolis and Posidonia, seabed instability, and water quality degradation,” Professor Fox says.
“Seagrass meadows are primary producers at the bottom of the food chain and they provide natural habitat for many species of fish, crustaceans, and other marine animals.”
“Taking the seagrasses out of the system causes a ‘domino effect’, where the seafloor becomes less stable and hence promotes a further loss of seagrass.”
The study found that water quality improvement plans over the past 10 years, coupled with reduced volumes discharged to the sea, have made a positive difference.
However, Professor Fox says large scale recovery of seagrass meadows requires continued, lasting reductions in coastal inputs, and a replanting effort.
CSIRO initiated the National Research Flagships to provide science-based solutions in response to Australia’s major research challenges and opportunities. The nine Flagships form multidisciplinary teams with industry and the research community to deliver impact and benefits for Australia.
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- The release of a major study into the mysterious decline of Adelaide’s coastal seagrasses is helping to improve the marine environment along the metropolitan coastline
- The work is a testament to the collaboration of more than 60 researchers from across Australia
- The work, co-ordinated by CSIRO, was initiated in 2001 to investigate the loss of more than 5000 hectares of shallow sub-tidal seagrass since the mid 1930s and 1940s