Structured Marine Habitats Can Help Threatened Marine Resources to Survive

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Structured Marine Habitats Can Help Threatened Marine Resources to Survive

Mangroves and seagrasses play a major role in providing key guidance for our threatened marine resources/ Photo By vilainecrevette via 123RF

 

Our marine biodiversity has been an almost inexhaustible supply of food, transport route, and other uses for the past centuries. Its millions of species have truly helped humans in survival, research, and other sustainable activities. However, human activities have finally pushed our marine resources to their limit particularly over the last few decades. It has been carelessly abused and destroyed, overfished and polluted, leaving it more fragile and complex than they once were. 

UNESCO reported that more than half of the world’s marine species may stand on the brink of extinction by the year 2100 if there are no significant changes that will happen. Coastal and marine habitats are threatened with urban development and construction, agricultural practices, mining, fisheries, and many more. This can have a major impact on our ecosystem since coastal systems, such as salt marshes, mangroves, and seagrass meadows have the ability to absorb, or sequester, carbon at rates up to 50 times. 

As of now, the global extent of critical marine habitats, such as mangroves, seagrasses, and coral reefs is between 30% to 35%. Additionally, a recent study showed that mangroves and seagrasses play a major role in providing key guidance for our threatened marine resources. If the destructive human activities are continued in the coming next years, these habitats will be completely destroyed, affecting thousands of species and even humans. 

Mangroves in Mitigating Carbon Emissions

Coastal vegetation like seagrasses, mangroves, and salt marshes play a significant role in providing habitat for wildlife and stabilizing land surface against wind erosion. In fact, a study from the researchers of the Department of Geography at the National University of Singapore - Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences has found out that these can be the most effective habitats in mitigating carbon emissions. The findings of the said research were published in the journal Biology Letters last year. 

According to an article by the Science Daily, carbon vegetation like mangroves is able to store carbon more efficiently because it has the ability to accumulate organic carbon. However, only 0.42% of the carbon emissions released by human activities in 2014 are diminished because coastal vegetation is limited. The study also found out that less than 1% of the national carbon emissions in Colombia, Nigeria, and Bangladesh are mitigated by mangroves alone. 

Dr. Pierre Taillardat, one of the authors of the study, added that out of 23 million tons of carbon emission in Colombia, 260,000 tons are mitigated. This has the potential to increase only if mangroves are protected and carbon emissions are reduced. Thus, the findings of the research suggest that restoration and conservation of the coastal vegetations, particularly mangroves, is a direct way to mitigate the effects of climate change. 

Seagrass in Boosting Marine Ecosystems

In research led by Jeanine Olsen and Yves Van de Peer from the University of Groningen, a specific type of seagrass, Zostera marina genome, has been found out to have a wide range of functional ecological studies. According to another article by the Science Daily, seagrasses have the ability to provide the foundation of highly productive ecosystems that exist along the coasts of all continents. 

The research revealed the unique insights into Zostera marina's genomic losses and gains, which are both important in the structural and physiological adaptations required for its marine lifestyle. The seagrasses' functions not only revolve in sustaining harvestable fish and invertebrates but also in controlling erosion effects. The findings also showed that seagrasses have the ability to capture carbon dioxide. "Having unraveled the genomic basis of Zostera marina's complex adaptations to life in ocean waters, this study can advance ecological studies on how marine ecosystems might adopt under climate warming," Prof. Van de Peer said.

Mangroves are able to store carbon more efficiently because it has the ability to accumulate organic carbon/ Photo By vilainecrevette via 123RF

 

Mangroves and Seagrasses in Marine Resources' Survival

Both mangroves and seagrasses have proven their benefits to the ecosystem and in the marine species, specifically. A recent study conducted by the researchers from William and Mary's Virginia Institute of Marine Science showed that mangroves and seagrasses can help threatened marine resources in surviving. According to the Science Daily, a comprehensive analysis of more than 11,000 previous coastal-habitat measurements showed that they provide the greatest value as "nurseries" for invertebrates and young fishes. 

In an interview, lead author Jonathan Lefcheck said, "Our results confirm the nursery function of a range of structured habitats, which supports their conservation, restoration, and management at a time when our coastal environments are increasingly impacted by human activities." Aside from that, the researchers found out that some effective nursery grounds include "structured" marine habitats, such as patches of rock, coral and oyster reefs, and marshes. 

The researchers used 160 studies between 1986 and 2016, including 11,236 statistical comparisons of juvenile success for the study. The findings of the study discovered that structured marine habitats can result in a stronger coastal economy and more fish for fisheries that can protect endangered species.

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