In recent years there has been a focus on the capabilities of the ocean to sequester carbon, known as blue carbon, and how blue carbon can be a strategy to mitigate climate change. Blue carbon ecosystems comprise of a variety of species across a range of environments and depths; typically seagrasses, mangroves, and tidal marsh species. Yet, marine macroalgae represent a potentially significant contribution to blue carbon that has not been investigated in detail even though macroalgae are the dominant primary producers in coastal environments globally. Due to the high rates or primary production in macroalgae, its fragmentation, and ability to be transported, macroalgae represent a significant donor of carbon to accumulation areas elsewhere.
My research is designed to determine whether the exported carbon from seagrass meadows, mangrove forests, tidal marshes, and macroalgae are contributing to a significant carbon sink beyond their habitats. This will be accomplished by building a genomic database of Australian marine macrophytes using eDNA barcoding techniques and by developing primers that can be used to fingerprint carbon sources in marine sediments. The genomic database and primers built will be used to test the hypothesis in surface sediments from un-vegetated coastal habitats near Perth, Western Australia.
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