1/7 #SeaTurtleTalks
A mechanism for compensatory growth in Thalassia testudinum meadows under cultivation #grazing by green turtles 🐢🌱
Green #seaturtle populations are recovering, resulting in ecosystem-wide shifts as #seagrass meadows are returned to a natural grazed state. A juvenile green turtle swims above a grazed area in a Carib
2/7 The green turtle grazing strategy, with long-term cultivation of meadows (see photo) and high foraging site fidelity, is distinct from other terrestrial and aquatic mega-herbivores, and may affect seagrass compensatory (i.e. stimulated) growth responses. A border of a grazed (left) and ungrazed (right) area in a C
3/7 In a Caribbean seagrass ecosystem, we identify a mechanism for compensatory growth responses to grazing by evaluating relationships between T. testudinum morphology and growth, in situ grazing intensity, and canopy light dynamics in grazed and ungrazed areas. Figure summary showing that light availability at canopy hei
4/7 Grazing removes leaf biomass, which increases light availability at canopy height and stimulates leaf growth and turnover (i.e. compensatory growth). Shoot density increases with grazing intensity, maintaining leaf area index and canopy light harvesting potential. Figure summary showing that T. testudinum shoot density incrFigure summary from a generalized additive model showing tha
5/7 This maximizes the potential for leaf photosynthetic activity and provides the plant with the capacity to sustain leaf mass growth and support a compensatory growth response to green turtle grazing.
6/7 Our study presents novel insight for evaluating underlying mechanisms of #seagrass compensatory growth responses to cultivation grazing and proposes potential thresholds for assessing the sustainability of in situ grazing pressure by recovering green turtle populations. A green turtle grazes in a Caribbean seagrass meadow. Photo
7/7 Check out our recent publication in @JEcology , co-authored by @johnson_robert3 @ACCSTR_UF and @NatlParkService collaborators.

Full article: doi.org/10.1111/1365-2…

@UFExplore @UF_CLAS @NPSYouth @SIP_Fellows #ACCSTR #UFResearch #NPSYouth

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