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A 2,000-Year Record of Eelgrass (Zostera marina L.): Colonization Shows Substantial Gains in Blue Carbon Storage and Nutrient Retention
Södertörn University, School of Natural Sciences, Technology and Environmental Studies, Environmental Science.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2016-4857
Södertörn University, School of Natural Sciences, Technology and Environmental Studies, Environmental Science.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7552-2431
Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CEAB‐CSIC), Spain.
Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CEAB‐CSIC),Spain, Edith Cowan University, Australia.
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2024 (English)In: Global Biogeochemical Cycles, ISSN 0886-6236, E-ISSN 1944-9224, Vol. 38, no 3, article id e2023GB008039Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Assessing historical environmental conditions linked to habitat colonization is important for understanding long-term resilience and improving conservation and restoration efforts. Such information is lacking for the seagrass Zostera marina, an important foundation species across cold-temperate coastal areas of the Northern Hemisphere. Here, we reconstructed environmental conditions during the last 14,000 years from sediment cores in two eelgrass (Z. marina) meadows along the Swedish west coast, with the main aims to identify the time frame of seagrass colonization and describe subsequent biogeochemical changes following establishment. Based on vegetation proxies (lipid biomarkers), eelgrass colonization occurred about 2,000 years ago after geomorphological changes that resulted in a shallow, sheltered environment favoring seagrass growth. Seagrass establishment led to up to 20- and 24-fold increases in sedimentary carbon and nitrogen accumulation rates, respectively. This demonstrates the capacity of seagrasses as efficient ecosystem engineers and their role in global change mitigation and adaptation through CO2 removal, and nutrient and sediment retention. By combining regional climate projections and landscape models, we assessed potential climate change effects on seagrass growth, productivity and distribution until 2100. These predictions showed that seagrass meadows are mostly at risk from increased sedimentation and hydrodynamic changes, while the impact from sea level rise alone might be of less importance in the studied area. This study showcases the positive feedback between seagrass colonization and environmental conditions, which holds promise for successful conservation and restoration efforts aimed at supporting climate change mitigation and adaptation, and the provision of several other crucial ecosystem services. © 2024. The Authors.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
John Wiley & Sons, 2024. Vol. 38, no 3, article id e2023GB008039
Keywords [en]
climate change, environmental change, millennial scale, nature-based solution, paleoreconstruction, seagrass, environmental conditions, global change, regional climate, sea level change, sedimentation
National Category
Climate Research Ecology
Research subject
Environmental Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-53746DOI: 10.1029/2023GB008039ISI: 001181933100001Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85187910776OAI: oai:DiVA.org:sh-53746DiVA, id: diva2:1847656
Available from: 2024-03-28 Created: 2024-03-28 Last updated: 2024-04-02Bibliographically approved

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Dahl, MartinGullström, MartinAndrén, ElinorAndrén, ThomasBraun, Sara

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