Impacts of docks on seagrass and effects of management practices to ameliorate these impacts

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 2014, 136 pp. 53 - 60
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
© 2013 Elsevier Ltd. Seagrasses have high conservation and human-use values, but around the world they are being damaged by human activities. Compared to the larger spatial scale at which some human activities affect estuaries and their seagrasses (e.g. catchment disturbance, dredging, pollution, trawling), recreational boating and infrastructure of moorings and docks act at smaller scales. However, the cumulative effects contribute to stresses acting on seagrass beds. This study assessed the effects of docks on the native seagrass Zostera muelleri subsp. capricorni in an estuary in south-east Australia and of current management practices designed to reduce dock impacts on this seagrass. A field survey found that seagrass biomass was significantly reduced below docks, and the effects were not influenced by dock orientation. Management practices requiring the use of a mesh decking to provide greater light penetration reduced, but did not eliminate, the reduction in seagrass biomass caused by docks. A modified beyond BACI experiment provided evidence for a causal link between the installation of wooden or mesh docks and reductions in biomass of seagrass. The reduction in biomass was apparent 6 mo after dock installation, and by 26 mo seagrass biomass had declined by at least 90%. Faced with increasing coastal populations, increases in recreational use, and continued pressures from other human activities, alternative management practices that further minimize the effects of docks are needed.
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