Oscar Serrano, Edith Cowan UniversityFollow
Diana I. Gómez-López
Cristian Salinas, Edith Cowan UniversityFollow
Pere Masque, Edith Cowan UniversityFollow
Cesar A. Bernal
ORCID : 0000-0002-5973-0046
School of Science / Centre for Marine Ecosystems Research
Australian Research Council Funding information : https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-90544-5
ARC Number : DE170101524, LE170100219
Seagrass ecosystems rank amongst the most efficient natural carbon sinks on earth, sequestering CO2 through photosynthesis and storing organic carbon (Corg) underneath their soils for millennia and thereby, mitigating climate change. However, estimates of Corg stocks and accumulation rates in seagrass meadows (blue carbon) are restricted to few regions, and further information on spatial variability is required to derive robust global estimates. Here we studied soil Corg stocks and accumulation rates in seagrass meadows across the Colombian Caribbean. We estimated that Thalassia testudinum meadows store 241 ± 118 Mg Corg ha−1 (mean ± SD) in the top 1 m-thick soils, accumulated at rates of 122 ± 62 and 15 ± 7 g Corg m−2 year−1 over the last ~ 70 years and up to 2000 years, respectively. The tropical climate of the Caribbean Sea and associated sediment run-off, together with the relatively high primary production of T. testudinum, influencing biotic and abiotic drivers of Corg storage linked to seagrass and soil respiration rates, explains their relatively high Corg stocks and accumulation rates when compared to other meadows globally. Differences in soil Corg storage among Colombian Caribbean regions are largely linked to differences in the relative contribution of Corg sources to the soil Corg pool (seagrass, algae Halimeda tuna, mangrove and seston) and the content of soil particles < 0.016 mm binding Corg and enhancing its preservation. Despite the moderate areal extent of T. testudinum in the Colombian Caribbean (661 km2), it sequesters around 0.3 Tg CO2 year−1, which is equivalent to ~ 0.4% of CO2 emissions from fossil fuels in Colombia. This study adds data from a new region to a growing dataset on seagrass blue carbon and further explores differences in meadow Corg storage based on biotic and abiotic environmental factors, while providing the basis for the implementation of seagrass blue carbon strategies in Colombia.
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Natural and Built Environments
Environmental science, ecology and ecosystems