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Environment Magazine September/October 2008

May-June 2013

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Seagrass Meadows, Ecosystem Services, and Sustainability

Seagrass meadows are soft-sediment marine habitats that are comprised of a group of plants adapted to life in the sea.1,2 These meadows have been estimated to cover up to 600,000 km2 of the coastal ocean and occur in abundance on every continent except Antarctica.3 Like all flowering plants, seagrasses develop fruit and produce seeds, have true roots, and have internal gaseous and nutrient transport systems.4,5 There are approximately only 72 species of seagrass, and these live within sheltered intertidal and subtidal areas of the marine environment. Although three seagrass species are endangered, and 10 species are at elevated risk of extinction, the majority are common; therefore, their importance lies in the role they play in the ecosystem as a whole.6

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