Geo-Marine Letters

, Volume 39, Issue 3, pp 249–264 | Cite as

Geomorphological and sedimentological surrogates for the understanding of seagrass distribution within a temperate nearshore setting (Esperance Western Australia)

  • Sira Tecchiato
  • Carla BuosiEmail author
  • Angelo Ibba
  • Claudio Del Deo
  • Iain Parnum
  • Mick O’Leary
  • Sandro De Muro


Seagrass meadows are important benthic habitats contributing to many aspects of ecological community health, beach stability and sediment supply. Relationships between morpho-sedimentary features and distribution of seagrass meadows were investigated through an integrated analysis of geomorphology, sediments and benthic habitat structure in a temperate nearshore setting (Esperance Bay, Western Australia). The results demonstrate that seagrass distribution is related to gradients in sediment texture and composition, hydrodynamics and human impact. Dense seagrass meadows occurred in more sheltered regions of the bay, whereas sparser vegetation was found in areas of higher wave energy and artificial activities (like ship anchoring and dredging activities). A preferential retention of heavier siliciclastic sediments was recorded in the seagrass meadows especially in areas with high sediment supply resulting in elevated beds and formation of intermates. Sediment characteristics suggest that carbonate sediment is transported onshore from the seagrass meadow supplying the beach system. The combined analyses of geomorphological features and sediment characteristics at Esperance have allowed identification of a prevalent eastward oriented sediment transport current. Seagrass beds are confirmed to be a sediment source in terms of sediment budget contributing to beach stability. Integrated geomorphological data, sediment analyses and benthic habitat mapping provide useful information for the management of coastal environments characterized by the presence of seagrass meadows by providing new insights on coastal processes.



This paper is the result of a collaborative project between Curtin University and the University of Cagliari. The authors are grateful for the support of the Department of Park and Wildlife (Esperance District), especially Mr. Stephen Butler for fieldwork support. The first author would like to thank the Department of Transport for project support. The authors warmly thank Karin Bryan (editor in chief) and two anonymous reviewers for their criticism and helpful suggestions, which improved the manuscript.

Funding information

This research project was funded by the University of Cagliari with the support of a Western Australian Department of Transport CAP grant to the Shire of Esperance. This work is a part of NEPTUNE and BEACH projects (funded by Regione Autonoma Sardegna under L.R. 7/2007) and “Relationship between seagrass distribution and coastal erosion at Esperance (WA)” project.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environment & AgricultureCurtin UniversityPerthAustralia
  2. 2.BMT Western AustraliaOsborne ParkAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Chemical and Geological Sciences, Coastal and Marine Geomorphology Group (CMGG)Università degli Studi di CagliariMonserratoItaly
  4. 4.Advisian Pty LtdPerthAustralia
  5. 5.Centre for Marine Science & TechnologyCurtin UniversityPerthAustralia

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