Seagrasses in the South-East Australian Region—Distribution, Metabolism, and Morphology in Response to Hydrodynamic, Substrate, and Water Quality Stressors

  • Angus J. P. FergusonEmail author
  • Peter R. Scanes
  • Jaimie D. Potts
  • Matthew P. Adams
  • Katherine R. O’Brien


This chapter describes the distribution of key seagrass species in the estuarine-nearshore coastal (ENC) continuum of the south-east region of Australia. We explore the potential influences of hydrodynamics (e.g. tidal currents, wave energy), estuary entrance dynamics (recruitment) and water quality, in addition to light, as primary stressors on seagrass processes and resilience. Despite primary controls exerted by light over seagrass distribution, there are significant areas of euphotic sediments in south-east region that are not colonised by seagrasses. In addition, seagrasses commonly display high degrees of inter-annual variability in coverage which cannot be explained solely by variations in light. We describe the main ecosystem types within the region, and demonstrate how the temporal and spatial gradients in hydrodynamic and water quality stressors (hence light climate), and the availability of suitable substrates for seagrass are controlled by the physical setting or geomorphology of the ecosystem. The opportunistic species Zostera muelleri is the most abundant species within the region, primarily occupying the highly dynamic estuarine niche. We provide a focus on Zostera muelleri to illustrate the direct positive/negative impacts of hydrodynamic, water quality and estuary entrance morphology stressors on seagrass metabolism and morphology across light gradients.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Angus J. P. Ferguson
    • 1
    Email author
  • Peter R. Scanes
    • 1
  • Jaimie D. Potts
    • 1
  • Matthew P. Adams
    • 2
  • Katherine R. O’Brien
    • 2
  1. 1.Office of Environment and HeritageLidcombeAustralia
  2. 2.School of Chemical EngineeringThe University of QueenslandSt LuciaAustralia

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