Massive seagrass beds in Western Australia’s Shark Bay have showed little recovery from a devastating 2011 heat wave, according to a new study. The team’s findings demonstrate how certain vital ecosystems may change drastically in a warming climate.
“We were studying a relatively pristine ecosystem, but in summer 2011 we had the hottest water temperatures on record at the time, and we saw 70-90 percent losses of seagrasses at our study sites. No one expected it to be that bad,” said Rob Nowicki, a researcher at Mote Marine Laboratory who conducted the fieldwork while a doctorate student in Marine Sciences at Florida International University. “After our colleagues documented the losses, we wanted to know how much the ecosystem might recover over a few years. If you take a punch and get up quickly, you’re ready for the next punch. But our study has suggested this system took a punch, and in the short term, it has not gotten back up.”
Several years after a harsh 2011 heat wave, a once-lush seagrass bed still struggles to recover. Read the full FIU News article here >>