Frontiers in Marine Science
Centre for Marine Ecosystems Research / School of Science
The Australian Centre for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (ACEAS)
Globally marine-terrestrial interfaces are highly impacted due to a range of human pressures. Seagrass habitats exist in the shallow marine waters of this interface, have significant values and are impacted by a range of pressures. Cumulative risk analysis is widely used to identify risk from multiple threats and assist in prioritizing management actions. This study conducted a cumulative risk analysis of seagrass habitat associated with the Australian continent to support management actions. We developed a spatially explicit risk model based on a database of threats to coastal aquatic habitat in Australia, spanning 35,000 km of coastline. Risk hotspots were identified using the model and reducing the risk of nutrient and sediment pollution for seagrass habitat was assessed. Incorporating future threats greatly altered the spatial-distribution of risk. High risk from multiple current threats was identified throughout all bioregions, but high risk from climate change alone manifested in only two. Improving management of nutrient and sediment loads, a common approach to conserve seagrass habitat did reduce risk, but only in temperate regions, highlighting the danger of focusing management on a single strategy. Monitoring, management and conservation actions from a national and regional perspective can be guided by these outputs.
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