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Understanding Seagrass Effects on Biodiversity Levels (USEABLE)
Start date: 27 Feb 2008, End date: 26 Feb 2011 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"Seagrasses are well known ecosystem engineers in that they can strongly affect the hydrodynamic environment within a meadow. Benthos diversity within a seagrass meadow will predominantly consist of filter feeders and deposit feeders. For their food supply, filter feeders will benefit from strong hydrodynamics that cause a high refreshment rate of the water column, whereas deposit feeders will benefit from attenuated hydrodynamic energy that enhances seston deposition at the sediment surface. The extend to which hydrodynamic energy within a meadow will be modified (and thus the different forms of food are supplied) is largely determined by shoot characteristics such as shoot density, shoot stiffness, shoot length, etc. in combination with the patchiness of the meadow and in combination with external forcing (velocity range and presence or absence of waves). However, literature offers contradictory results when biodiversity of filter feeder organisms within seagrasses beds is analyzed. While several works showed that filter feeders growth in seagrass beds are lower than in unvegetated areas, others concluded that these organisms obtain benefits living inside meadows. We hypothesized that such discrepancies may be related to the interplay between flow characteristics and seagrass canopy properties which will enhance or decrease the food supply to animals and in a later stage influence the biodiversity of filter-feeder and deposit organisms."
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