Seagrass ecosystems support the productivity and biodiversity of marine ecosystems. Humans gain many benefits from the conservation of seagrass meadows including food, psychological benefits from recreational activities like snorkelling, and economic returns for commercially valuable species which inhabit seagrasses.
Over time ecosystems have built up ecological resilience by their capacity to resist or recover from environmental stressors, however, human impacts such as pollution and commercial developments have undermined this capacity. My honours project takes place in the Swan-Canning estuary and will investigate the ecological resilience of seagrass which are sensitive to environmental changes and often used as indicators of estuarine health. Preventing the decline of estuarine conditions has ecological benefits for the faunal communities which inhabit and derive nutrients from the area, and social benefits such as bird watching and fishing.
Extreme events such as droughts and floods are predicted to increase as a result of climate change, reinforcing the need to improve the management of these ecosystems to promote ecological resilience. The project aims to determine the difference (if any) in the resilience of seagrass meadows in high and low impact areas within the estuary. Additionally, I will investigate whether meadow form, a relatively new concept, influences ecological resilience of seagrass to increase our understanding and to inform management frameworks.
Miss Chanelle Webster
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