In the presence of corals, waves still dissipate their energy via breaking, but the importance of frictional dissipation increases, as previously observed by Lowe et al. Adapting the approach of Sheppard et al. For both storm and non-storm scenarios, we model the evolution of the wave field over the reef profiles (Table 1) by solving the well-established wave evolution equation [56,57]: Data used to generate results presented in this paper are available for free. This article by Sivajyodee Sannassy Pilly, PhD Candidate in Marine Ecology, John Turner, Professor of Marine Biology and Head of School of Ocean Sciences, Bangor University, and Ronan Roche, Research Fellow in Marine Science at the School of Ocean Sciences is republished from The Conversation under a … In the barrier reef profile, in the absence of any live habitat, nearshore waves at the shoreward edge of the submerged forest are, on average, 0.1 m high (Fig 7B, “No Live Habitat”), which results in approximately 0.6 m3/m of mud scoured from the submerged forest (Fig 7D, “No Live Habitat”). The diversity of AOA communities was higher than that of AOB, though the abundance of AOB communities was greater than that of AOB, and the community compositions of the sampling locations were distinct. It provides food and shelter for many different underwater creatures. Therefore, in the absence of habitats, inundation levels, mud bed scour volumes, and sand transport potential values are more than 60% lower in the fringing reef profile than in the barrier profile (Figs 8 & 9): once again, the distance of the reef from the shoreline has profound repercussions on the lagoon hydrodynamics and sediment transport patterns [19,83]. Bar plots of average values of wave height (top subplots) and bed shear stress (bottom subplots) computed for different combinations of live reef and seagrass meadows present under present sea-level conditions. Seagrass is recognised by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as one of the most rapidly declining ecosystems on earth. where ρ is the water density, g the constant of gravity, fC the Coriolis parameter, h is the water depth relative to MSL, and x is the cross-shore distance from the offshore-most point of each profile (Fig 2). Mangroves lower the surge at the landward edge of the mud bed by 10 cm in the barrier reef, and 8 cm in the fringing reef; they reduce wave heights by more than 70% (66 cm to 15cm, in the barrier reef, and 28 cm to 8 cm in the fringing reef); and they also decrease wave setup by more than 70% (21 cm to 6 cm in the barrier reef, and 8 cm to a slight setdown in the fringing reef). No dependence between year and habitat type was detected for absolute counts of corals. In the absence of live corals, seagrasses alone reduce nearshore wave height by 13% to 0.19 m and bed shear stress by 30% to 0.48 N/m2, compared to what we observe without any live habitat (Fig 6A and 6C, “Seagrass Only” vs. “No Live Habitat”). Note that, nearshore wave height and bed shear stress values are lower in the barrier reef than in the fringing reef, since waves in the longer lagoon have more time (space) to dissipate their energy via bottom friction. Mangrove forests occupy the nearshore intertidal and coastal regions, extending from mean lower low water (MLLW) to well landward of the mean higher high water (MHHW) mark. Seagrass is vital to the low-lying island nation of the Maldives; it prevents beach erosion, fights climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide, provides food for sea turtles, supports fisheries and houses juvenile coral reef fish. When operating together, they reduce nearshore wave height by nearly 40% (0.13 m vs. 0.22 m, Fig 6A) and bed shear stress by more than 60% (0.26 N/m2 vs. 0.7 N/m2, Fig 6C). Natural habitats have the ability to protect coastal communities against the impacts of waves and storms, yet it is unclear how different habitats complement each other to reduce those impacts. Increasingly, coastal and marine ecosystems are perceived, promoted and used as alternatives to... Methods. We find that, in the absence of habitats, differences in the geomorphology of the two profiles yield significant differences in inundation and sediment loss. Sixty different species of seagrass are in different ocean climates, from ice caps to coral reefs and everything in between. ... To be sure, nutrient pollution is just one stress factor affecting Florida's coral reefs. [61] suggest values of γ = 0.69 and b = 1.09 for waves travelling over reefs faces, rims and flats. 10 Positive Ocean News Stories from November 2020, 10 Positive Ocean News Stories from October 2020, 10 Positive Ocean News Stories from September 2020, 10 Positive Ocean News Stories from August 2020. We created a record for non-storm forcing conditions by post-processing 9 years (2005 to 2013) of WaveWatch III (WW3) [43] data offshore of the Belizean barrier reef (Fig 1), where we excluded all wave data between June and October, the hurricane season, and removed all data 10 hours before and after any occurences of wind speed faster than 17 m/s, the minimum speed during tropical storms [44]. We estimate the setup following Guannel et al. Application of Eq (3) to various linear bathymetry profiles and with different wind speeds produced waves comparable to outputs from the model SWAN [70] with Generation 1 or 2 wind-wave formulations. Existing seagrass coverage patterns in Belize (Fig 1) show that regions deeper than 1 m and shallower than 13 meters are fully or partially covered with the commonly found Turtle Grass (Thalassia testudinum) meadows [31]. As a marine scientist and ocean lover I would be lying if I said I didn’t have moments where I become overwhelmed by the sate of our oceans. We compute SWind over open water areas using the hurricane maximum sustained wind speed [59]. Yes Does seagrass hold the secret to saving the world’s coral reefs from extinction? You can unlock your login by sending yourself a special link via email. We complete these transects by adding to both lagoon profiles a typical 1V:1000H mud flat from -0.5 m MSL to MHW (approximately +0.3 m MSL [28]) followed by a typical 1V:500H mangrove forest mud floor [29,30]. How to choose the best marine conservation volunteer project for you. Asexual Clonal Growth: Similar to grasses on land, seagrass shoots are connected underground by a network of large root-like structures called rhizomes. Even divers and ocean lovers are often unaware of the importance of seagrass and the vital role it plays. Box plots of wave height (top subplots) and bed shear stress (bottom subplots) values computed as a function of the presence or absence of live coral or seagrasses. The Halodule pinifolia often grows among other species of seagrass in the Great … We quantify the difference in coastal protection services supplied by habitats living in two idealized tropical 1-D seascapes: one bounded offshore by a barrier reef and the other by a fringing reef (Figs 1 & 2; Table 1). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0158094.g008. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0158094.s002. Due to this three dimensional structure in the water column, many species occupy seagrass habitats for shelter and foraging. Small critters find refuge within the tangle of mangrove roots, and many reef fish use the mangrove habitat as a nursery. They still grow flowers, pollen … Much like seagrass meadows, mangrove forests, and salt marshes, coral reefs are home to numerous species. Live corals on the reefs also influence the values of the protection metrics nearshore, or the far field region (Figs 3 & 6). Look closely and you’ll find a vast collection of commercially important fish and crustacea. They also capture and store a large amount of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The rhizomes can spread under t… fisheries, coral reef cannot survive. Circles represent mean values. For the first future profile (“live reef” profile), the reef is initially covered with live corals and accretes vertically as sea-level rises. And under future sea-level conditions, nearshore wave height and bed shear stress shoreward of a dead and bare reef are 4 and 17 times greater, respectively, than the values obtained for a live reef. The protection metrics differ for non-storm and storm conditions, but together they include changes in wave height, bed shear stress, mud bed scour volume, inundation level and sand erosion potential in the presence or absence of one of more habitats. The result will be a reduction in food security for developing coastal nations, a decline in commercial fisheries, and a reduction in the ocean’s ability to store man-made carbon dioxide. Profiles of wave height in the absence of wind are shown to illustrate the extent of wave re-generation that occurs in the lagoons. Yes Globally, estimates suggest we lose an area of seagrass around the same size as two football pitches every hour. [63]. Understanding the connectivity of fish among different typical habitats is important for conducting ecosystem-based management, particularly when designing marine protected areas (MPA) or setting MPA networks. Vertical tick marks indicate 1 standard deviation value around the mean. Although percent hard coral on surveyed reefs Seagrass lacks the charisma of coral reefs or the imposing presence of mangroves. Circles represent minimum and maximum values. All have complex underground root systems which anchor them to mainly sandy and sheltered shallow coastlines. In addition, V is the wind-induced longshore current, and τwy and τby are surface wind and bed shear stresses [55]. e0158094. Current address: The Nature Conservancy, Coral Gables, FL, United States of America, Affiliation The hope is that, through conservation and restoration efforts, these ecosystems will shield communities from the impacts of coastal hazards [5–9], while continuing to deliver services that increase the well-being of residents, and improve the ecological health of coastal regions [10–13]. The nearshore meadow is the one closest to the shore. See S3 Fig for box plot version of this figure and analogous results for future sea-level rise scenario. These results also suggest that seagrasses moderate the far field consequences of reef degradation at the coastline. Degradation of coral reefs- this can result in lost of tourism revenue in countries that depend on reef-based tourism. Interestingly, regardless of the presence of habitats, nearshore wave height and bed shear stress values in the fringing reef profile are higher than in the barrier reef profile. Above: Propeller damage to seagrass meadow. Consequently, wave heights transmitted by the reefs and observed immediately shoreward of the reef flats are also identical in the two systems. The future of corals reefs is becoming increasingly uncertain with serious consequences for the ecosystem services that they provide. Our results also illustrate the importance of taking into account the presence of live corals when computing the ecosystem service function of reefs [19,42,83], something that has been overlooked in previous studies [20,21,90]. Seagrasses in the WIO region cover extensive areas of nearshore soft bottoms along ~12,000 km of coastline from the intertidal to depths of more than 30m (Gullström et al., 2002; Ochieng and Erftemeijer, 2003; Bandeira and Gell, 2003). No, PLOS is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation, #C2354500, based in San Francisco, California, US, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0158094, https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/memoranda/2016/m-16-01.pdf, http://mlis.state.md.us/2008rs/fnotes/bil_0003/hb0973.pdf, http://www.lacpra.org/assets/docs/2012 Master Plan/Final Plan/2012 Coastal Master Plan.pdf, http://acwc.sdp.sirsi.net/client/search/asset/1000799, http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/tcfaq/G16.html, http://www.oas.org/CDMP/document/reglstrm/, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0951-8339(02)00054-0, http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2012/1084/pdf/ofr2012-1084.pdf, http://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1388780453134-c5e577ea3d1da878b40e20b776804736/Atlantic+Ocean+and+Gulf+of+Mexico+Coastal+Guidelines+Update+(Feb+2007).pdf, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.coastaleng.2014.08.005, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2005.09.042, http://www.int-res.com/abstracts/meps/v391/p107-115/. Together the coral reef and mangrove ecosystems form a barrier that protects shorelines from the destructive forces of wind, waves and driven debris. Shoreward of the reef, we re-created the lagoon profiles based on observed and measured characteristics of the Belizean seascape [26,27] (Fig 2): the fringing reef lagoon is 0.3 km long with an average depth of 3 m; the barrier reef lagoon is 25 km long with a maximum depth of 17 m (Fig 2). Yes Her PhD has brought her closer to the UK’s own unique and beautiful marine environment. At the coast, we compute inundation extent with a bathtub approach, where any land area below the surge elevation at the shoreline is flooded. The Smith Lab Scripps Institution of Oceanography Hubbs Hall, Room 2255 Maps and Directions Email: smithj@ucsd.edu Phone: 858-246-0803 Fax: 858-822-2167 Member Login broad scope, and wide readership – a perfect fit for your research every time. Indeed, this approach overlooks the fact that natural systems can help protect coasts from a host of hazards that occur under different forcing conditions. Conceived and designed the experiments: GG KA. Coral reefs are some of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. Mangrove roots (subscript r) and trunks (subscript t) have typical diameters of dvr = 2 and dvt = 20 cm, heights of hvr = 0.5 and hvt = 2 m, and densities of Nvr = 90 and Nvt = 90 units/m2 [30,36]. The coral reefs and seagrass meadows of Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary are productive habitats that support the fishing, diving, and tourism industries of the Florida Keys. Such an approach would account for the varied ways in which different habitats reduce risks from coastal hazards and thus improve our ability to manage marine seascapes to protect communities in the future. Here are some simple things that you can do to help seagrass meadows today: Alix @GreengrassSea is a PhD student at University College London documenting the carbon storage capacity of the UK’s seagrass meadows. Seagrass first evolved tens of millions years ago, when some flowering plants moved from land into the ocean. PLOS ONE promises fair, rigorous peer review, The health of these habitats is affected by many factors — ranging from water quality to hurricanes to disease. Discover a faster, simpler path to publishing in a high-quality journal. The shelter provided by the leaves of seagrasses will increase the coral fish population sustaining the local fisheries. The biggest coral reefs are thousands of years old and usually thrive in warm, shallow water where they receive plenty of sunlight. Seagrass beds form an important nursery habitat for several species of fishes and invertebrates that move to coral reefs and other ecosystems as they mature. The plant can reach 15 centimetres in length. In the fringing reef, the seagrass meadow was split in two equidistant meadows. Accordingly, governments are promoting approaches to coastal hazard planning that account for the supply and delivery of multiple benefits from natural systems [14–16]. On the other hand, in the barrier reef, nearshore seagrasses supply more protection services than live corals, and under certain circumstances, seagrasses can compensate for the impacts of short-or long-term degradation of the reef. In other words, even though mangroves fill an entirely different coastal protection “niche” than corals and seagrass, the latter habitats are interchangeable for a subset of important coastal protection functions. In this paper, we investigate the contribution of coral reefs, seagrass meadows and mangroves to the protection of coastal areas in two idealized reef systems (i.e., barrier and fringing reef), under present day and future (+1 m) sea-level conditions, and during both non-storm and storm conditions. However, by and large, most proposed nature-based approaches for coastal protection rely on maximizing protection benefits supplied by specific habitats on a seascape (e.g., a wetland, a coral reef, etc.) However, if the service is measured nearshore, live corals in the fringing and barrier reef profiles do not provide the same amount of services. In the barrier reef, seagrasses decrease the sand erosion potential by roughly 20% (Fig 9, “No Live Habitat”, “Seagrass Only” and “Coral and Seagrass”); the presence of corals on the reef matters little. The Marine Benthic Ecology and Ecophysiology Laboratory focuses on shallow water coral reefs and temperate and tropical seagrass meadows, integrating aspects of physiology, ecology, and oceanography. We outline where there We examine the protection services supplied by those habitats starting at the reef, where we compute the transmitted wave heights into the lagoon for different coral health conditions. Seagrass and coral reefs of the eastern Aegean are in desperate need of protection. There is another very important element of the reef ecosystem that is often over looked: the land. We are using cookies to give you the best experience on our website. Thus, for both reef profiles, mangroves alone decrease the inundation level at the landward edge of the mud bed by more than 35% (2.22 m down to 1.48 m in the barrier reef, and 0.86 m to 0.48 m in the fringing reef). As a result, the dataset used in the modeling effort was reduced from more than 24,000 records to just over 14,000 (S1 Fig). This term can be expressed as [56]: No, Is the Subject Area "Storms" applicable to this article? Species richness and abundance of fishes were significantly higher in coral reefs (234 species, 12,306 individuals) than in seagrass (38 species, 1,198 individuals) and mangrove (47 species, 2,426 individuals) habitats. The merits of such an integrated approach has been established for fisheries management [93,94]. In the present day scenario, in the absence of coral cover on reefs (“Bare Reef”, Fig 2), offshore maximum and mean wave heights are reduced in the lagoons to 9% and 21% (0.31 and 0.28 m) of their initial values (Fig 2, Table 3). Protecting what is left is vital. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0158094.s003. Also, in addition to structural differences, the amount of service supplied by habitats in our analysis is highly dependent on the geomorphic setting, habitat location and forcing conditions: live corals in the fringing reef profile supply more protection services than seagrasses; seagrasses in the barrier reef profile supply more protection services than live corals; and seagrasses, in our simulations, can even compensate for the long-term degradation of the barrier reef. Human practices such as coastal development, destructive fishing practices such as trawling, anchoring and mooring damage, poor sewage treatment and pollution all negatively impact seagrass meadows. Although only a few feet high, dense seagrass meadows have as much leaf area as towering rainforests, We would like to thank J. Becker, J. Faries, B. Guannel, A. Guerry, C.K. Until recent years most of her diving and conservation experience has been outside of the UK. Learn More, Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window), Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window). Although only a few feet high, dense seagrass meadows have as much leaf area as towering rainforests, #oceanoptimism news & #seafantastic facts We also thank the anonymous referees whose thoughtful comments greatly improved the quality of the manuscript. The same argument can be made for seagrass meadows far from the coast (S3 Fig). Overall, we find again that multiple habitats provide more benefits than any single habitat alone: in the presence of a live reef and seagrasses, the average wave height at the shoreward edge of the submerged forest and the volume of mud scoured in the forest decrease to 0.08 m and 0.3 m3/m, respectively (Fig 7A and 7C “Coral & Seagrass”). A) Map of Belize showing the location of coral reefs, seagrass meadows and mangrove forests. Finally, the deep root structures associated with seagrass meadows stabilise and strengthen sediment and so protect the coastline from erosion. Copyright: © 2016 Guannel et al. These results suggest that reefs act as dynamic low-pass filters for waves [21,83] (Fig 4), where the transmitted wave height Ht can be computed as Ht = A1 tanh [Ho / A2] (R2 ≈ 0.6 for the “Bare Reef” scenario, black circles Fig 3B, R2 > 0.8 for all other scenarios). >The impacts from unsustainable fishing on coral reef areas can lead to the depletion of key reef species in many locations. where Sxx is the radiation stress caused by waves and rollers [79,80], and αr,t = hr,t / h is the relative height of plant’s roots and trunk. Greg Guannel was also supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration through their grant NA11OAR4310136. In conclusion, we demonstrate the importance of taking an integrated approach to assessing the protection services supplied by marine habitats when crafting conservation or restoration plans. Seagrass meadows play a critical ecological role in complex coastal food webs that encompass adjacent and interconnected ecosystems such as mangroves and coral reefs (Unsworth et al. Yes We use real life situations to draw conclusions and give practical advice on the management of coral reefs, mangrove forests and seagrass beds. We first examine how coral reefs, seagrasses and mangroves protect coastal regions against wind-waves and swells during non-storm conditions. Thus, compared to the results for the barrier reef, live corals provide more protection services than seagrasses in the fringing reef profile, and seagrasses do not compensate for coral reef degradation. By taking sharks out of the coral reef ecosystem, the larger predatory fish, such as groupers, increase in abundance and feed on the herbivores. Microfauna and meiofauna colonize the dead seagrass blades, feeding on the bacteria and fungi as well as on the dissolved organic matter released from the decomposing blades. The barometric surge, SB, is computed as SB = 0.0104(P∞ − Po) [55], where P∞ is the normal atmospheric pressure, and Po the pressure at the center of the hurricane. [23–25]. The Halophila spinulosa also goes by the name of Fern seagrass. Final Report ES-2 (8) Right: Wave rose of the complete record. (7) Additionally, these differences in setting also yield differences in habitat performance. In the main, seagrasses on coral reefs are found in lagoons or in shallow inter-reefal areas, where they support large populations of herbivores. To quantify coastal protection metrics during non-storm periods, we model the evolution of each wave obtained from the WW3 record over the reefs, seagrass meadows and inside the submerged mangrove forests.