BY MICHAEL SIEVERS, ROD CONNOLLY AND TOM RAYNER

When we think of mangrove forests, seagrass meadows and saltmarshes, we don’t immediately think of shark habitats.

THE FIRST global review of links between large marine animals (megafauna) and coastal wetlands is challenging this view – and how we might respond to the biodiversity crisis.

Mangrove forests, seagrass meadows and saltmarshes support rich biodiversity, underpin the livelihoods of more than a billion people worldwide, store carbon, and protect us from extreme weather events.

We know marine megafauna also use these habitats to live, feed and breed. Green turtles and manatees, for instance, are known to eat seagrass, and dolphins hunt in mangroves.

But new associations are also being discovered. The bonnethead shark – a close relative of hammerheads – was recently found to eat and digest seagrass.

The problem is that we’re losing these important places. And until now, we’ve underestimated how important they are for large, charismatic and ecologically important marine animals.

Counting wetland megafauna

Today our review of the connections between marine megafauna and vegetated coastal wetlands was published in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution. As it turns out, far more megafauna species use coastal wetlands than we thought.

Continue > australiangeographic.com.au/topics/science-environment/2019/05/sharks-in-seagrass-and-manatees-in-mangroves-the-importance-of-coastal-wetlands-revealed/

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