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The Dynamics of Deep Water Seagrasses.

Global seagrass research and assessment efforts have focused on intertidal and shallow subtidal seagrass habitats in recent years with increasing recognition of the important role they play in sediment stabilisation, nutrient cycling and as nursery and feeding habitats. However there are also vast areas of deepwater (>10m) seagrasses about which comparatively little is known.

There are at least 30000 km2 of seagrass habitat in deepwater areas (>10 m) of the Great Barrier Reef lagoon alone, with vast meadows also in the Torres Strait. The TropWater Seagrass Ecology group are undertaking long-term investigations into the drivers and dynamics of deepwater seagrasses off the coast of Queensland; the first detailed study of its kind in Australia.

The study aims to determine the specific environmental cues for seasonal seagrass recruitment and senescence, and the role of seed banks in the maintenance of deepwater seagrass meadows. One of the major outcomes of the program will be the identification of species-specific light thresholds and sub-lethal indicators of stress that can be used to help conserve deepwater seagrasses at risk from human impacts.

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