Fieldwork on Seagrass Ecosystem Services: Lac, Bonaire
Seagrasses are essential components of coastal zones ecosystems due to their extremely high productivity and the high biodiversity they support. Inside Lac, Bonaire, seagrasses cover the sea floor and provide a key-habitat to a growing population of endangered green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas).
Invasive seagrass Halophila stipulacea (originating from the Red Sea) appears to be outcompeting native seagrasses such as Thalassia testudinum. Using 49 fixed locations, we observed that between 2011 and 2015 the occurrence of H. stipulacea in the bay increased significantly from 6% to 20% while native T. testudinum occurrence decreased significantly from 53% to 33% (Smulders et al., 2017). The consequences for the seagrass ecosystem services are still not known. In February 2017, several fieldwork projects were conducted on seagrass ecosystem services and foraging behaviour of sea turtles in Lac by a team of local experts (Sabine Engel, STINAPA and STCB), together with researchers from Groningen University, NIOZ and NIOO led by Marjolijn Christianen.
Also a pilot experiment was installed to test the use of “BESE-elements”, biodegradable potato starch polymer structures (https://www.bese-elements.com) for seagrass restoration.
This news-item was published in BioNews 6-2017.