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MEPS
Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 616:211-218 (2019)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12955

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Large variability in organic carbon and CaCO3 burial in seagrass meadows: a case study from three Australian estuaries

Christian J. Sanders1,*, Damien T. Maher2, Joseph M. Smoak3, Bradley D. Eyre4

1National Marine Science Centre, School of Environment, Science and Engineering, Southern Cross University, PO Box 4321, Coffs Harbour, 2450 New South Wales, Australia
2Southern Cross Geoscience, Southern Cross University, PO Box 157, Lismore, 2480 New South Wales, Australia
3Environmental Science, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, Florida 33701, USA
4Centre for Coastal Biogeochemistry Research, School of Environment, Science and Engineering, Southern Cross University, Lismore, 2480 New South Wales, Australia
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Blue carbon refers to the carbon accumulation capacity of vegetated coastal habitats, including salt marshes, mangroves forests and seagrass meadows. Here we present estimates of organic carbon (Corg) and calcium carbonate (CaCO3) burial rates from 4 seagrass species (Halophila ovalis, Posidonia australis, Ruppia megacarpa, Zostera muelleri) in 3 temperate estuaries on the east coast of Australia. The Corg burial rates (mean ± SE) varied by an order of magnitude across the seagrass communities (16 ± 3 to 130 ± 40 g m-2 yr-1). The δ13Corg and Corg:N ratios suggest that the seagrass communities buried variable mixtures of seagrass, algal and mangrove/terrestrial material. CaCO3 burial rates ranged from 15 ± 11 to 188 ± 122 g m-2 yr-1, which, if precipitated by calcifying organisms in these or nearby habitats, may offset up to 89% of the Corg burial across the 8 seagrass communities. Our results highlight a large range in both Corg and CaCO3 burial rates, and the provenance of the carbon sequestered in seagrasses, factors that need to be considered when assessing the role of seagrasses in blue carbon and climate change mitigation strategies.


KEY WORDS: Seagrass · Carbon content · Accumulation · Sedimentation · Blue carbon


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Cite this article as: Sanders CJ, Maher DT, Smoak JM, Eyre BD (2019) Large variability in organic carbon and CaCO3 burial in seagrass meadows: a case study from three Australian estuaries. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 616:211-218. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12955

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