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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter May 7, 2018

Complex yet fauna-deficient seagrass ecosystems at risk in southern Myanmar

Benjamin L. Jones ORCID logo, Leanne C. Cullen-Unsworth, Robert Howard and Richard K.F. Unsworth
From the journal Botanica Marina

Abstract

Dependence on seafood across Southeast Asia is extensive. Myanmar is no exception, but the country’s provisioning marine ecosystems are threatened. Seagrass is one habitat that is frequently overlooked in management as an important fisheries resource, despite its nursery function. In Myanmar, research on seagrass habitats is particularly sparse, and as a result, our understanding of seagrass exploitation remains limited. In this study, we provide a baseline assessment of the seagrass-associated fish assemblages at four locations in the Myeik Archipelago in southern Myanmar using mono Baited Remote Underwater Video systems. Across the sites surveyed only 12 taxa of motile fauna were recorded. Relative to other regional and global studies, this figure is meagre. Our data adds to a growing literature suggesting that the marine ecosystems of Myanmar are in a worrying state. Despite the lack of recorded seagrass associated fauna, our study revealed minimal impacts to seagrass meadows from eutrophication or sedimentation, and the meadows included appeared to be healthy. The sites with the highest number of motile fauna were within Myanmar’s only National Marine Park offering some optimism for the effectiveness of protection, but further assessments are required to allow targeted management of Myanmar’s seagrass meadows.

Acknowledgements

The present study was conducted with funding support from the Sustainable Places Research Institute, Cardiff University and logistical support from Fauna & Flora International (Myanmar). The authors would like to thank Salai Mon Nyi Nyi Lin and Antt Maung for their logistical assistance in the field.

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Received: 2017-10-16
Accepted: 2018-4-11
Published Online: 2018-5-7
Published in Print: 2018-6-27

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