Adapted Seagrass Watch Protocol to evaluate Posidonia oceanica health, in the Eastern Aegean Sea
Gütte C., Meek S. and Miliou A.
Seagrass meadows, in particular Posidonia oceanica (Linnaeus,1813) play an important role within Mediterranean coastal systems, providing numerous key ecosystem services, while also ensuring the maintenance of physical, chemical and biological conditions. P. oceanica acts as an ecosystem architect to provide a habitat for many different species, as a breeding, nursery and foraging ground. Its ecological importance and vulnerability to a variety of anthropogenic influences has resulted in an increasing interest in using P. oceanica as a health indicator of Mediterranean coastal systems. P. oceanica health was evaluated at 10 sites around Lipsi island in order to determine the health status and the impact of various anthropogenic activities. The Seagrass Watch Protocol was partly modified and implemented to assess biological and environmental data. Concentrations of phosphorus and nitrite were determined at each site, as indicators of eutrophication, potentially influencing seagrass health. Through the modification of the seagrass watch protocol with additional simple data measurements such as phosphorous and nitrite levels of the sea water, a more accurate assessment of seagrass health can be achieved with little additional sampling effort and cost.
Key-words: Posidonia oceanica, ecosystem health, citizen science, Eastern Aegean