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|Watching grass grow: Bottlenecks in seagrass survival
Coastal ecosystems are put under pressure by anthropogenic activities of the over40 % of the Earth’s population that lives along the worlds coastline. Moreover,as these dynamic ecosystems are known for not responding linearly to changes,but for following threshold behavior, they can be lost without any warning.Restoration of these ecosystems that often consist of eco-engineering species hasproven to be notoriously hard as thresholds need to be bridged to ensurereestablishment of the self-sustaining positive feedback loops of theecoengineering species. Despite the difficulties that have to be overcome,globally numerous efforts are performed to conserve and restore key ecosystemspecies and their high economic and ecological value, like is the case forseagrasses.In this thesis, I – while watching seagrass grow - focused on the effects ofcombined physiological stressors (salinity, desiccation and light), bioturbationand sediment dynamics on seagrass dynamics. Moreover, I aimed to identifyenvironmental preferences and bottlenecks of dwarf eelgrass Zostera noltii in theEastern Scheldt tidal basin in order to better understand and predict the dynamicsof existing seagrass meadows and to ensure and optimize reestablishment ofZostera noltii at new potential seagrass sites by transplantation efforts.