Simulating ephemeral seagrass growth


Ephemeral seagrasses provide important marine habitats, but are under threat due to human activity. Whitehead et al. develop a new functional-structural environmentally dependant model, in order to integrate existing knowledge of ephemeral seagrass growth dynamics and to assess potential management options, such as transplantation.

Two-dimensional ‘snapshots’ illustrating the dynamic simulated growth of four initial apical meristems within a 300 mm × 300 mm experimental plot, with growth captured at 20, 60, 120 and 200 d after initial planting. Black dotted lines represent senesced and decayed rhizomes, light green solid lines represent live rhizomes, dark green circles represent leaves and red circles represent growing apical meristems. Note that at day 20 (top left) all plants have branched once, but one of the resulting apices has already died on one plant. By day 60 (top right), two plants have lost all live apices; one of these has separated into two separate structures. The two survivors have grown out of the plot, and one of these has then grown back into the plot from outside. By day 120 two plants are completely dead and senescenced, and by day 200 one of the surviving plants has grown to reach the area where one of the dead senesced plants was growing.

The model is parameterised for a population of Halophila stipulacea (Hydrocharitaceae) in the Persian Gulf, and is able to successfully simulate its dynamic structural growth patterns. The model is freely available and easily adapted for new species and locations, although validation for more species and environments is required




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