What are Seagrasses?
Seagrasses are the only truly marine flowering plants and they form a unique meadow habitat in shallow water. The species at Studland is the common eelgrass, Zostera marina.
What Does it Do?
The plants provide food for wildlfowl, such as brent goose and wigeon, and the meadows shelter a wide range of fish and invertebrates. Some pipefish species are almost totally restricted to seagrass meadows and the spiny seahorse is strongly associated with this habitat.
The underground stems (rhizomes) and roots of the seagrass help bind together and stabilise the seabed sediment, reducing rates of erosion - potentially important in a site like Studland.
A Rare & Unique Underwater Habitat
Globally, seagrass meadows are under threat. A recent study reported that 58% of the world's seagrass meadows are declining, with 110km2 of seagrass disappearing every year since 1980 - the main causes being direct loss from coastal development and dredging and indirect impacts of declining water quality.
Other impacts include boating, fishing and natural impacts such as storms and disease.
Benefits of seagrass meadows
As well as being an important wildlife habitat Seagrass meadows offer significant benefits to people. These include:
It is nationally scarce in Britain and is of international importance
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