seagrass ecosystems in the gulf of mannar: multiple bioindicators for monitoring ecosystem health
Seagrasses are marine angiosperms with definite roots stems, leaves and flowers. They grow on soft bottoms in shallow tropical clear water, where light penetration is sufficient enough for photosynthesis. Because of their close proximity to the shore, they tend to be easily affected by land-based pollution. Being sessile, they completely depend on the surrounding environment for nutrients, respiration etc . Absorbed nutrients and minerals accumulate in their tissues and are reflected in their physiological, biological and morphological characteristics, and serve as indicators of the state or health of the environment.
Human-induced environmental change worldwide has created a demand for effective tools that allow the assessment of the status and health of important ecosystems. Monitoring tools have been developed to assist in effective ecosystem management as well as to monitor environmental health. These represent two distinctly different approaches to monitoring and serve very different ends, with important differences that reflect in the design, implementation and interpretation of the monitoring programme. While the approaches may be different, often, there is a large amount of overlap in the ecosystem or species-level parameters that are measured in the field. Here in this study, we are trying the feasibility of expanding the scope of monitoring to satisfy both management goals in an integrated monitoring protocol. We validate the potential efficacy of this approach for the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay, using seagrass meadows as the representative system chosen for monitoring.