Current Status of Seagrass Habitat in Korea
Nine seagrass species of four genera, including five Zostera species (Z. marina, Z. asiatica, Z. caespitosa, Z. caulescens, and Z. japonica), two Phyllospadix species (P. iwatensis and P. jaonicus), Ruppia maritima, and Halophila nipponica are distributed on soft sediments and rocky substrata from intertidal to approximately 15 m water depth in coastal waters of Korea. Zostera marina is the dominant seagrass species, and H. nipponica, a species of the tropical genus, has been observed recently on the coasts of Korea. Zostera asiatica, Z. caespitosa, Z. caulescens, and two Phyllospadix species are endemic in the northwestern Pacific. Most seagrasses in Korea have growth dynamics adapted to temperate environments, but H. nipponica exhibits a growth pattern similar to tropical/subtropical seagrass species. Six seagrass species including Z. marina, Z. caespitosa, Z. caulescens, Z. asiatica, P. iwatensis, and P. japonicus are protected as “Marine Organisms under Protection” in Korea. Seven of the 15 IUCN Red List seagrass species occur in coastal waters of Korea. Significant loss of seagrass habitats has been reported due to both anthropogenic and natural disturbances such as land reclamation and coastal eutrophication in Korea. Since the majority of Korean seagrasses are cold water adapted, global climate change appears to be a new threat to seagrasses in Korea.
KeywordsAnthropogenic disturbances Growth dynamics Korea Seagrasses Seagrass decline Threatened seagrasses
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