Seagrass Restoration Enhances “Blue Carbon” Sequestration in Coastal Waters

Article
Authors:Greiner, Jill, Department of Environmental SciencesUniversity of Virginia McGlathery, Karen, Department of Environmental SciencesUniversity of Virginia Gunnell, John, Department of Marine SciencesUniversity of North Carolina, Chapel Hill McKee, Brent, Department of Marine SciencesUniversity of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Abstract:

Seagrass meadows are highly productive habitats that provide important ecosystem services in the coastal zone, including carbon and nutrient sequestration. Organic carbon in seagrass sediment, known as “blue carbon,” accumulates from both in situ production and sedimentation of particulate carbon from the water column. Using a large-scale restoration (>1700 ha) in the Virginia coastal bays as a model system, we evaluated the role of seagrass, Zostera marina, restoration in carbon storage in sediments of shallow coastal ecosystems. Sediments of replicate seagrass meadows representing different age treatments (as time since seeding: 0, 4, and 10 years), were analyzed for % carbon, % nitrogen, bulk density, organic matter content, and 210Pb for dating at 1-cm increments to a depth of 10 cm. Sediment nutrient and organic content, and carbon accumulation rates were higher in 10-year seagrass meadows relative to 4-year and bare sediment. These differences were consistent with higher shoot density in the older meadow. Carbon accumulation rates determined for the 10-year restored seagrass meadows were 36.68 g C m-2 yr-1. Within 12 years of seeding, the restored seagrass meadows are expected to accumulate carbon at a rate that is comparable to measured ranges in natural seagrass meadows. This the first study to provide evidence of the potential of seagrass habitat restoration to enhance carbon sequestration in the coastal zone.

Keywords:
seagrass, blue carbon, carbon sink, sequestration, sedimentation, restoration, ecosystems
Rights:
All rights reserved (no additional license for public reuse)
Language:
English
Source Citation:

Greiner, Jill, Karen McGlathery, John Gunnell, and Brent McKee. "Seagrass Restoration Enhances “Blue Carbon” Sequestration in Coastal Waters." PLoS ONE 8.8 (2013): e72469. Available: ["doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0072469"].

Publisher:
University of Virginia
Published Date:
2013
Related Links:
  • doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0072469
  • Notes:

    This work has passed a peer-review process.