Royal Society of London
Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science
Centre for Marine Ecosystems Research
A movement ecology framework is applied to enhance our understanding of the causes, mechanisms and consequences of movement in seagrasses: marine, clonal, flowering plants. Four life-history stages of seagrasses can move: pollen, sexual propagules, vegetative fragments and the spread of individuals through clonal growth. Movement occurs on the water surface, in the water column, on or in the sediment, via animal vectors and through spreading clones. A capacity for long-distance dispersal and demographic connectivity over multiple timeframes is the novel feature of the movement ecology of seagrasses with significant evolutionary and ecological consequences. The space–time movement footprint of different life-history stages varies. For example, the distance moved by reproductive propagules and vegetative expansion via clonal growth is similar, but the timescales range exponentially, from hours to months or centuries to millennia, respectively. Consequently, environmental factors and key traits that interact to influence movement also operate on vastly different spatial and temporal scales. Six key future research areas have been identified.