“Blue Carbon” initiatives have highlighted the significant role of seagrasses in organic carbon (C org) burial and sequestration. However, global databases on the extent of C org stocks in seagrass ecosystems are largely comprised of studies conducted in monospecific beds from a limited number of regions, thus potentially biasing global estimates. To better characterize carbon stocks in seagrass beds of varying structure and composition, and to further expand the current “Blue Carbon” database to under-represented regions, we evaluate the extent of C org stocks in the relatively undocumented seagrass meadows of the Arabian Gulf. Surveys were conducted along the coast of Abu Dhabi (UAE) and encompassed sites ranging from sheltered embayments to offshore islands. Seagrass beds consisted of Halodule uninervis, Halophila ovalis and Halophila stipulacea. While seagrasses were widely distributed along the coast, both living and soil C org stores were relatively modest on an areal basis. Total seagrass biomass ranged from 0.03 to 1.13 Mg C ha−1, with a mean of 0.4 ± 0.1 (±SEM), and soil C org stocks (as estimated over the top meter) ranged from 1.9 to 109 Mg C ha−1, with a mean of 49.1 ± 7.0 (±SEM). However, owing to the expansive distribution of seagrasses in the Arabian Gulf, seagrass “Blue Carbon” stocks were large, with 400 Gg C stored in living seagrass biomass and 49.1 Tg C stored in soils. Thus, despite low C org stores for any given location, the overall contribution of seagrass beds to carbon storage are relatively large given their extensive coverage. This research adds to a growing global dataset on carbon stocks and further demonstrates that even seagrass beds dominated by small-bodied species function to store carbon in coastal environments.
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This research was funded by the Blue Carbon Demonstration Project of the Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI). We wish to thank and acknowledge H.E. Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary General of Environment Agency—Abu Dhabi (EAD) and Dr. Fred Launay, Senior Advisor to the Secretary General and AGEDI Acting Director. Planning support, local knowledge, and field participation were provided by the EAD’s Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity Sector Marine Division, in particular Edwin Grandcourt, Himansu Das, Ibrahim Bulga, Ahmed Alanzi, Maitha Al Hameli, Hada Al Mahairbi and Mohammed Al Ali, and AGEDI’s Ms. Jane Glavan, Ms. Huda Petra Shamayleh, and Ms. Larissa Owen. We acknowledge contributions of GRID-Arendal’s Christian Neumann and Emma Corbett, and Steven Lutz and members of Blue Carbon science team, Patrick Megonigal, Boone Kauffman, and Lisa Schile. This is contribution number 659 from the Southeast Environmental Research Center at Florida International University.
Communicated by Nuria Marba
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Campbell, J.E., Lacey, E.A., Decker, R.A. et al. Carbon Storage in Seagrass Beds of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Estuaries and Coasts 38, 242–251 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12237-014-9802-9