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Seagrass ecosystems at a 'global crisis'

Washington, DC (December 1, 2006) -- An international team of scientists is calling for a targeted global conservation effort to preserve seagrasses and their ecological services for the worlds coastal ecosystems, according to an article published in the December issue of Bioscience, the journal of the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS).

The article "A Global Crisis for Seagrass Ecosystems" cites the critical role seagrasses play in coastal systems and how costal development, population growth and the resulting increase of nutrient and sediment pollution have contributed to large-scale losses worldwide.

"Seagrasses are the coal mine canaries of coastal ecosystems," said co-author Dr. William Dennison of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. "The fate of seagrasses can provide resource managers advance signs of deteriorating ecological conditions caused by poor water quality and pollution."

Among its findings, the study analyzed an apparent disconnect between the scientific communitys concerns over seagrass habitat and its coverage in the popular media. While recent studies rank seagrass as one of the most valuable habitat in coastal systems, media coverage of other habitats including salt marshes, mangroves and coral reefs receive 3 to 100-fold more media attention than seagrass systems.

"Translating scientific understanding of the value of seagrass ecosystems into public awareness, and thus effective seagrass management and restoration, has not been as effective as for other coastal ecosystems, such as salt marshes, mangroves, or coral reefs," said co-author Dr. Robert Orth of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. "Elevating public awareness about this impending crisis is critical to averting it."

"This report is a call to the worlds coastal managers that we need to do more to protect seagrass habitat," said co-author Dr. Tim Carruthers of the University of Maryland Cen
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Contact: Christopher Conner
cconner@umces.edu
443-496-0095
University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
1-Dec-2006


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