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Building with Nature Guideline > Toolbox > Impact Assessment > Species Response Curves for Seagrass

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Species Response Curves for Seagrass

Type: Method

Project Phase: Initiation, Planning and Design

Purpose: Identifying tolerance levels of species to assess environmental impact from interventions

Requirements: Field and laboratory experience, ecological knowledge and analytical skills

Relevant Software: Statistical programme (eg. R)


This tool explains in general terms how seagrass responds to environmental conditions, specifically to reduced light penetration, which is one of the most severe threats for seagrass ecosystems worldwide. Such information is especially useful if planned infrastructural developments are expected to lead to (temporary) changes in environmental conditions in nearby sensitive ecosystems, e.g. dredging operations near coral reefs, mangrove forests or seagrass beds. The tool may give information on negative ecological impacts that may be expected from infrastructural developments, when and to what extent these impacts are expected to occur, to what extent negative impacts are reversible, and when managers, planners and constructors are to take precautionary measures to prevent irreversible damage. Information is provided on how to develop species response curves using lab and field experiments, and is therefore transferable to other species.

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How to Use

The construction and interpretation of species response curves is specialists work. It requires ecological laboratory and field work experience and scientific analytical skills. Even the use of a database of species response curves requires additional site specific monitoring of relevant environmental parameters site specific ecological interpretation. Depending on the quality and accuracy of the predicted environmental impact, and its duration, of infrastructural developments, species response curves can be a very powerful tool in the hands of coastal managers, planners and constructors.

  1. Experiments
  2. Response Trajectories
  3. Iterative process

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Practical Applications

  1. Singapore mesocosm experiment
  2. Field experiments in Singapore and Indonesia
  3. Conclusion: Best practice to set safe site-specific dredging criteria

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