Hungry turtles threaten seagrass meadows.

Map of the study area and representative images of simulated grazing. a, Map of the study area and locations of individual sites. b,c, Comparison between unclipped (b) and trimmed (c) plots. All clipped plots were caged and reclipped every 2 weeks. d, caged plots. e, Photograph of natural tortoise grazing in Mexico, from Hernandez and Tussenbroek (2014). Credit: Nature Ecology and Evolution (2024). DOI: 10.1038/s41559-024-02336-5

A hidden threat lurks among the subtropical seagrass meadows – turtles in search of milder temperatures.

It’s not just turtles, though. Manatees and a large number of other herbivores that eat a steady diet of seagrass, seagrass and more seagrass need a lot of it to survive. In addition to a steady supply of food, these herbivores also generally prefer to live in warm climates. And as ocean waters warm, many herbivores are expanding their ranges and moving poleward, occupying waters that were previously too cold.

There may be bad news for him. Which is generally not supported by many vegetarians. As it turns out, many subtropical seagrasses are not as resilient as their tropical counterparts, according to New research Published this month. Nature Ecology and Evolution.

“It’s a story about herbs that cause walking. and what effect they might have on subtropical seagrasses,” said Justin Campbell, lead author and FIU marine biologist. “What this study shows is that seagrasses in some regions grow with increasing temperatures. may no longer be able to tolerate vegetarianism.”

The study focuses on turtle grass – a primary seagrass distributed in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico – and examines its response to simulated feeding across a range of latitudes. The results reveal a troubling trend: Because subtropical seagrass meadows receive less sunlight than their tropical counterparts, they don’t grow back as quickly when grazed. If tropical weeds are introduced into subtropical waters, the threat of overgrazing may be very real.

“If we want to give these grasslands the best chance to withstand the expected increase in grazing, we need to get them as much light as possible. That means protecting water quality,” Campbell said. To do,” Campbell said.

Overgrazing is not yet a widespread phenomenon in the western Atlantic, but Campbell said it is already happening in subtropical to temperate waters around Australia and in the Mediterranean. While the findings weren’t a surprise to the team of scientists, they do represent the profound effects that climate change could throw underwater ecosystems completely out of balance.

“Seagrass ecosystems are already under a number of stressors,” Campbell said. “To maintain balance in our oceans, this is just further evidence that we need to prioritize our safety. and implementing effective management strategies to address the increasing risks posed by climate change.”

Although subtropical seagrasses have been found to be less resilient than their tropical counterparts, scientists have also discovered an interesting indicator of resilience – carbs. Seaweeds that are loaded with carbohydrates have been shown to have a greater ability to grow and thrive even when eaten by herbivores. Without large amounts of carbohydrates, seagrasses lack the energy to regenerate rapidly. Maybe carbs aren’t so bad after all.

More information:
Justin E. Campbell et al., Effects of herbivory on a primary seagrass range increasing with latitude, Nature Ecology and Evolution (2024). DOI: 10.1038/s41559-024-02336-5

Reference: Hungry Turtles Jeopardize Seagrass Meadows (2024, February 21) Retrieved February 21, 2024, from https://phys.org/news/2024-02-hungry-turtles-jeopardize-seagrass-meadows.html went

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