MEPS - Vol. 344 - Feature article

Rising CO2 concentrations derived from combustion of fossil fuel can increase the productivity and flowering rates of seagrass Zostera marina. Photo: S. Palacios

Palacios SL, Zimmerman RC

 

Response of eelgrass Zostera marina to CO2 enrichment: possible impacts of climate change and potential for remediation of coastal habitats

 

Projected increases in ambient CO2 concentrations may have a significant impact on photosynthesis in seagrasses, which are important ‘ecosystem engineers’ in coastal waters throughout the world. Previous short term studies demonstrated that carbon enrichment can sustain eelgrass growth under light limitation. In this study, Palacios & Zimmerman show that long-term CO2 enrichment derived from the flue gas of an electric power plant enhances the performance of eelgrass growing under natural light conditions over a year, resulting in significantly higher reproductive output, below-ground biomass and vegetative proliferation of new shoots. The broader effects of CO2 enrichment on ecosystem function, however, require further study before deliberate CO2 injection could be considered as a means to mitigate seagrass habitat degradation.

 

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