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Historical Analysis Exposes Catastrophic Seagrass Loss for the United Kingdom

Green, AE; Unsworth, RKF; Chadwick, MA; Jones, PJS; (2021) Historical Analysis Exposes Catastrophic Seagrass Loss for the United Kingdom. Frontiers in Plant Science , 12 , Article 629962. 10.3389/fpls.2021.629962. Green open access

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Abstract

The spatial extent of seagrass is poorly mapped, and knowledge of historical loss is limited. Here, we collated empirical and qualitative data using systematic review methods to provide unique analysis on seagrass occurrence and loss in the United Kingdom. We document 8,493 ha of recently mapped seagrass in the United Kingdom since 1998. This equates to an estimated 0.9 Mt of carbon, which, in the current carbon market represents about £22 million. Using simple models to estimate seagrass declines triangulated against habitat suitability models, we provide evidence of catastrophic seagrass loss; at least 44% of United Kingdom’s seagrasses have been lost since 1936, 39% since the 1980’s. However, losses over longer time spans may be as high as 92%. Based on these estimates, historical seagrass meadows could have stored 11.5 Mt of carbon and supported approximately 400 million fish. Our results demonstrate the vast scale of losses and highlight the opportunities to restore seagrass to support a range of ecosystems services.

Type: Article
Title: Historical Analysis Exposes Catastrophic Seagrass Loss for the United Kingdom
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2021.629962
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2021.629962
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Keywords: Blue carbon, ecosystem change, habitat loss, intertidal, historic change, marine, shifting baseline syndrome, Zostera spp.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Geography
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10125372
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