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Ecology of Posidonia oceanica beds
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Ecology of Posidonia oceanica beds


Seagrasses form beds that constitute some of the most ecologically important shallow-water marine habitats worldwide. Seagrass beds provide a refuge against predation for numerous invertebrate and fish species. They also provide food and serve as an extended substratum for attached plants and animals. They also support important commercial fisheries through their role as nurseries for many species, and have important interactions with the physical environment, for example, by trapping sediment and stabilising soft bottoms, and by attenuating wave action and sea currents, thereby reducing coastal erosion.

In the Mediterranean, Posidonia oceanica forms the most extensive seagrass beds at depths ranging 1 m to 40 m. The large size of this plant and the dense rhizome network it forms result in beds that have a very high structural complexity. Furthermore, P. oceanica forms several different bed types which range in size from small patches to large continuous beds. Despite the importance of P. oceanica beds, studies addressing the influence of different bed types and sizes on the species richness and abundance of associated fauna are lacking. A main aim of this research project is to assess the ecological characteristics of different types and sizes of beds of P. oceanica, thereby gaining an understanding of the potential effects of fragmentation of the habitat resulting from natural and anthropogenic disturbance.




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