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  Seagrasses of Australia    

Seagrasses of Australia

Seagrass Plants

Where a particular species of seagrass grows depends on many factors including the water depth, water temperature, degree of shelter,

An epiphyte is a small plant which grows attached to another plant. Encrusting algae, especially diatoms, and many other small organisms are common epiphytes growing on seagrass leaves. They form an important part of the seagrass food web. These epiphytes provide food and shelter for numerous small fish and invertebrates, which also seek protection from larger predators in the seagrass.

As seagrasses and epiphytic algae are competing for the same light and nutrients, seagrasses engage in partial chemical warfare with the algae. Seagrass plants release from their leaves dissolved compounds that interfere with epiphyte growth. Otherwise, without any controls, epiphytic algae would absorb most of the light and nutrient before they reach the seagrass, reducing seagrass photosynthesis and hence growth. Epiphytes cover seagrass blades more at the tips than toward the bases in order to receive more sunlight than those lower on the blade.

One species of seagrass, Amphibolis, has been recorded as having over 100 species of epiphytes growing on them across their range.

Seagrass Speciea found in Australia
Amphibolis antartica
(Sea nymph)
Halophila spinulosa Posidonia sinuosa
Amphibolis griffithii Heterozostera nigricaulis Ruppia megacarpa
Cymodocea angustata Heterozostera polychlamys Syringodium isoetifolium
Cymodocea serrulata Heterozostera tasmanica Thalassia hemprichii
Enhalus acoroides Posidonia australis Thalassodendron ciliatum
Halophila australis
(Paddle Weed)
Posidonia coriacea Thalassodendron pachyrhizum
Halodule pinifolia Posidonia australis
(Southern strapweed or Broad leaf seagrass)
Zostera capricorni (Eelgrass or ribbonweed)
Halodule uninervis Posidonia denhartogii Zostera mucronata
Halophila decipiens Posidonia kirkmanii Zostera muelleri (Short eelgrass)
Halophila minor Posidonia ostenfeldii Zostera muelleri subsp. mucronata
Halophila ovalis Posidonia robertsoniae Zostera tasmanica
(Long eelgrass)


Seagrass epiphytes
Image © John Yong from Flickr

Amphibolis griffithii
Image © Encyclopedia of Life

Halophila spinulosa
Image © Wild Singapore Flickr



Next:   Benefits and Uses  ...   


Distribution and Diversity
Seagrass Animals
Seagrass Plants
Benefits and Uses
Photo Gallery 1 - Plants
Photo Gallery 2 - Animals


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