Data underlying publication: Seagrass ecosystem multifunctionality under the rise of a flagship marine megaherbivore

doi: 10.4121/21214229.v1
The doi above is for this specific version of this dataset, which is currently the latest. Newer versions may be published in the future. For a link that will always point to the latest version, please use
doi: 10.4121/21214229
Datacite citation style:
Christianen, M.J.A. (Marjolijn); Fee O.H. Smulders; Jan Arie Vonk; Leontine Becking; Bouma, T.J. (Tjeerd) et. al. (2022): Data underlying publication: Seagrass ecosystem multifunctionality under the rise of a flagship marine megaherbivore. Version 1. 4TU.ResearchData. dataset. https://doi.org/10.4121/21214229.v1
Other citation styles (APA, Harvard, MLA, Vancouver, Chicago, IEEE) available at Datacite
Dataset
Wageningen University and Research logo
usage stats
759
views
412
downloads
categories
geolocation
Data was collected in Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean
time coverage
Field data was collected in the period of July 2015 - February 2016
licence
cc-by.png logo CC BY 4.0

This dataset contains the data collected from field experiments that assessed the effects of experimentally simulated grazing intensity scenarios on ecosystem functions and multifunctionality in a tropical Caribbean seagrass ecosystem. 

Abstract of the paper

Large grazers (megaherbivores) have a profound impact on ecosystem functioning. However, how ecosystem multifunctionality is affected by changes in megaherbivore populations remains poorly understood. Understanding the total impact on ecosystem multifunctionality requires an integrative ecosystem approach, which is especially challenging to obtain in marine systems. We assessed the effects of experimentally simulated grazing intensity scenarios on ecosystem functions and multifunctionality in a tropical Caribbean seagrass ecosystem. As a model, we selected a key marine megaherbivore, the green turtle, whose ecological role is rapidly unfolding in numerous foraging areas where populations are recovering through conservation after centuries of decline, with an increase in recorded overgrazing episodes. To quantify the effects, we employed a novel integrated index of seagrass ecosystem multifunctionality based upon multiple, well-recognized measures of seagrass ecosystem functions that reflect ecosystem services. Experiments revealed that intermediate turtle grazing resulted in the highest rates of nutrient cycling and carbon storage, while sediment stabilization, decomposition rates, epifauna richness, and fish biomass are highest in absence of turtle grazing. In contrast, intense grazing resulted in disproportionally large effects on ecosystem functions and a collapse of multifunctionality. These results imply that i) the return of a megaherbivore can exert strong effects on coastal ecosystem functions and multifunctionality, ii) conservation efforts that are skewed towards megaherbivores, but ignore their key drivers like predators or habitat, will likely result in overgrazing-induced loss of multifunctionality, and iii) the multifunctionality index shows great potential as a quantitative tool to assess ecosystem performance. Considerable and rapid alterations in megaherbivore abundance (both through extinction and conservation) cause an imbalance in ecosystem functioning and substantially alter or even compromise ecosystem services that help to negate global change effects. An integrative ecosystem approach in environmental management is urgently required to protect and enhance ecosystem multifunctionality. 

history
  • 2022-10-27 first online, published, posted
publisher
4TU.ResearchData
format
*.csv; *.R
funding
  • Global defaunation and plant invasion: cascading effects on seagrass ecosystem services (grant code 016.Veni.181.002) [more info...] Dutch Research Council
  • Habitat use and migratory routes of green and hawksbill turtles among the Dutch Caribbean islands (grant code 858.14.092) [more info...] Dutch Research Council
organizations
Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management Group, Wageningen University & Research
Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences, University of Groningen
Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED), University of Amsterdam
Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ)
Utrecht University, Utrecht
STINAPA; Bonaire National Parks Foundation
Université libre de Bruxelles
Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire
Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW)

DATA

files (6)