Timing anthropogenic stressors to mitigate their impact on marine ecosystem resilience

Journal: Nature Communications

Published: 2017-11-02

DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-01306-9

Affiliations: 7

Authors: 8

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Research Highlight

A window of opportunity to protect marine habitats

© cinoby/E+/Getty

© cinoby/E+/Getty

Finding the opportune moment for dredging the ocean could help safeguard marine biodiversity. 

Scooping up sediments from the sea bed, damages marine ecosystems across the globe. Its impact, however, can vary with the timing, location and duration of the disturbance.

A team including researchers from the University of Melbourne modelled the response of 28 global seagrass meadows, a food source for many marine species, to dredging throughout the year. They used three criteria to predict the resilience of each grass species resistance, recovery, and risk of extinction. 

The team predicted ‘ecological windows’ when the resilience would be highest and found that seagrasses could recover four times faster, with 35 per cent less chance of extinction, if dredging was carried out during this time.

Ecological windows could guide the sustainable management of marine resources while protecting vulnerable habitats from human activities.

Supported content

  1. Nature Communications 8, 1263 (2017). doi: 10.1038/s41467-017-01306-9
Institutions Share
James Cook University (JCU), Australia 0.38
The University of Melbourne (UniMelb), Australia 0.19
Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Australia 0.19
Western Australian Marine Science Institution (WAMSI), Australia 0.10
The University of Western Australia (UWA), Australia 0.08
Edith Cowan University (ECU), Australia 0.06