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The effect of morphological variation of seagrasses on feedback mechanisms

Brouwer, Koen (2019) The effect of morphological variation of seagrasses on feedback mechanisms. Master's Thesis / Essay, Biology.


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Seagrasses are marine plants that are at the basis of many marine ecosystems. However around the globe seagrasses are in decline. They are ecosystem engineers that shape the conditions of many systems. Seagrasses may create feedbacks by altering systems in such a way that the conditions for seagrass itself increase. Most importantly, seagrasses decrease wave energy and the speed of water flow through the canopy. This increases sedimentation and decreases resuspension of sediment leading to less floating particles and better light conditions. However, the strength of feedback mechanisms may not be the same for every species of seagrass since there are morphological differences. This essay aims to describe the morphological variation among seagrass species and what these variations in morphology mean for the strength of feedback mechanisms. Morphological differences in both above- and below-ground structures are described that will likely affect the strength of feedbacks that are driven by these structures. Water flow and wave energy is likely most attenuated by leaves that are longer, more rigid and have a hydrodynamically disruptive shape. Furthermore, larger seagrasses form a relatively large amount of below-ground biomass causing them to be more effective at stabilizing the sediment also making them more vulnerable to sulphide poisoning. Also, intertidal seagrasses with smaller, narrower leaves are most efficient at reducing desiccation stress and seagrasses with roots and rhizomes that reach deep and branch often have the strongest protection against uprooting. If the species composition of seagrass meadows change in the future, the strength of feedback mechanisms may change as well.

Item Type: Thesis (Master's Thesis / Essay)
Supervisor name: Heide, T. van der
Degree programme: Biology
Thesis type: Master's Thesis / Essay
Language: English
Date Deposited: 28 May 2019
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2019 12:18

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