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I thought you would be interested in this article from environment: YALE magazine, the Journal of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.
By Steve Grant
A scientist who has spent decades researching seagrasses is refining a system that could be the key to the long-term preservation of these often-overlooked but invaluable marine plants.
Anitra Thorhaug, a research professor since 1979, is working on a sophisticated process to better assess the condition of seagrasses and seaweeds worldwide, relying upon satellite surveillance data that are more comprehensive, less expensive and safer than the labor- and cost-intensive alternative—on-the-spot observation by crews of technicians.
Working in cooperation with Graeme Berlyn, E. H. Harriman Professor of Forest Management and Physiology of Trees, Thorhaug uses a technology called spectral reflectance to monitor seagrasses and seaweeds.
“Nobody has ever tried these spectral techniques on seagrasses and macroalgae,” as seaweeds are more formally known, Thorhaug said. “We are being very ambitious and bold here.”
A seagrass meadow is like a thriving city, a dynamic concentration of life whose influence radiates far beyond its confines. Seagrass leaves, or blades, as they are known, are food for conch and parrotfish, as well as a safe place for hundreds of species of fish to lay their eggs. Seagrasses also are shelter for many species of juvenile fish, including gray snapper, and prevent erosion of near-shore waters.
“They also take a lot of carbon dioxide out of the air and the sea,” Thorhaug said. “They are a big part of the carbon cycle” and therefore can be valuable in containing global warming.
They are, in fact, a bigger part of the carbon puzzle than…
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