Seagrass meadows globally as a coupled social-ecological system: Implications for human wellbeing

Leanne C. Cullen-Unsworth*, Lina Mtwana Nordlund, Jessica Paddock, Susan Baker, Len J. McKenzie, Richard K F Unsworth

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

129 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Seagrass ecosystems are diminishing worldwide and repeated studies confirm a lack of appreciation for the value of these systems. In order to highlight their value we provide the first discussion of seagrass meadows as a coupled social-ecological system on a global scale. We consider the impact of a declining resource on people, including those for whom seagrass meadows are utilised for income generation and a source of food security through fisheries support. Case studies from across the globe are used to demonstrate the intricate relationship between seagrass meadows and people that highlight the multi-functional role of seagrasses in human wellbeing. While each case underscores unique issues, these examples simultaneously reveal social-ecological coupling that transcends cultural and geographical boundaries. We conclude that understanding seagrass meadows as a coupled social-ecological system is crucial in carving pathways for social and ecological resilience in light of current patterns of local to global environmental change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387-397
Number of pages11
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Volume83
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2014

Keywords

  • Coupled social-ecological system
  • Ecological systems
  • Ecosystem services
  • Human wellbeing
  • Seagrass meadows
  • Social processes

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