Trends of the seagrass Cymodocea nodosa (Magnoliophyta) in the Canary Islands: population changes in the last two decades


  • Federico Fabbri Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
  • Fernando Espino Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
  • Rogelio Herrera Viceconsejería de Medio Ambiente, Gobierno de Canarias
  • Leopoldo Moro Viceconsejería de Medio Ambiente, Gobierno de Canarias
  • Ricardo Haroun Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
  • Rodrigo Riera Centro de Investigaciones Medioambientales del Atlántico
  • Nieves González-Henriquez Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
  • Oscar Bergasa Elittoral, Parque Científico Tecnológico de Tafira
  • Oscar Monterroso Centro de Investigaciones Medioambientales del Atlántico
  • Manuel Ruiz de la Rosa ECOS
  • Fernando Tuya Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria



seagrass, population trend, temporal patterns, change rates, Canary Islands, Atlantic Ocean


Seagrass meadows perform essential ecosystem functions and services. Though the meadows are globally deteriorating, numerous regressions remain unreported as a result of data fragmentation. Cymodocea nodosa is the most important seagrass in shallow coastal waters of the Canary Islands. No study has so far investigated temporal population trends at the entire archipelago scale. Using data collected in the past 23 years by local companies, public authorities and research groups, the population trends of Cymodocea nodosa were analysed over the past two decades at the scales of islands, island sectors and meadows. During this period, a prevalence of negative trends was revealed for three seagrass demographic descriptors (seagrass shoot density, coverage and leaf length) at the three scales, evidencing an overall deterioration in seagrass meadow integrity. These results suggest the need to develop correct management strategies to guarantee the conservation of this seagrass and the meadows it creates.


Download data is not yet available.


Barberá C., Tuya F., Boyra A., et al. 2005. Spatial variation in the structural parameters of Cymodocea nodosa seagrass meadows in the Canary Islands: a multiscaled approach. Bot. Mar. 48: 122-126.

Bell J.D., Pollard D.A. 1989. Ecology of fish assemblages and fisheries associated with seagrasses. In: McComb A.J., Larkum A.W.D., Shepherd S.A. (eds), The biology of seagrasses: an Australian perspective. Elsevier, pp. 565-609. PMid:2805022

Burkholder J.M., Tomasko D.A., Touchette B.W. 2007. Seagrasses and eutrophication. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 350: 46-72.

Cabaço S., Ferreira O., Santos R. 2010. Population dynamics of the seagrass Cymodocea nodosa in Ria Formosa lagoon following inlet artificial relocation. Est. Coast. Shelf Sci. 87: 510-516.

Ceccherelli G., Campo D., Milazzo M. 2007. Short-term response of the slow growing seagrass Posidonia oceanica to simulated anchor impact. Mar. Environ. Res. 63: 341-349. PMid:17175019

Duarte C.M., Dennison W.C., Orth R.J., et al. 2008. The charisma of coastal ecosystems. Est. Coasts 31: 233-238.

Espino F., Tuya F., Blanch I., et al. 2008. Los Sebadales en Canarias. Praderas de fanerógamas marinas. BIOGES, Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canarias, 68 pp.

Espino E., Tuya F., Brito A., et al. 2011. Ichthyofauna associated with Cymodocea nodosa meadows in the Canarian Archipelago (central eastern Atlantic): community structure and nursery role. Cienc. Mar. 37: 157-174.

Francour P., Ganteaume A., Poulain M. 1999. Effects of boat anchoring in Posidonia oceanica beds in the Port-Cross National Park (north-western Mediterranean Sea). Aquat. Cons. 9: 391-400.<391::AID-AQC356>3.0.CO;2-8

Halpern B.S., Walbridge S., Selkoe K.A., et al. 2008. A global map of human impacts on marine ecosystems. Science 319: 948-952. PMid:18276889

Hemminga M.A., Nieuwenhuize J. 1990. Seagrass wrack-induced dune formation on a tropical coast (Banc d'Arguin, Mauritania). Est. Coast. Shelf Sci. 31: 499-502.

Jones C.V., Lawton J.H., Shachak, M. 1994. Organisms as Ecosystem Engineers. Oikos 69: 373-386.

Martín-García L., Herrera R., Moro-Abad L., et al. 2014. Predicting the potential habitat of the harmful cyanobacteria Lyngbya majuscula in the Canary Islands (Spain). Harmful Algae 34: 76-86.

Mascaró O., Oliva S., Pérez M., et al. 2009. Spatial variability in ecological attributes of the seagrass Cymodocea nodosa. Bot. Mar. 52: 429-438.

Milazzo M., Badalamenti F., Ceccherelli G., et al. 2004. Boat anchoring on Posidonia oceanica beds in a marine protected area (Italy, Western Mediterranean): effect of anchor types in different anchoring stages. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 299: 51-62.

Montefalcone M., Chiantore M., Lanzone A., et al. 2008. BACI design reveals the decline of the seagrass Posidonia oceanica induced by anchoring. Mar. Poll. Bull. 56: 1637-1645. PMid:18603267

Oliva S., Mascaró O., Llagostera I., et al. 2012. Selection of metrics based on the seagrass Cymodocea nodosa and development of a biotic index (CYMOX) for assessing ecological status of coastal and transitional waters. Est. Coast. Shelf Sci. 114: 7-17.

Orth R.J., Carruthers T.J.B., Dennison W.C., et al. 2006. A global crisis for seagrass ecosystems. Biosciences 56: 987-996.[987:AGCFSE]2.0.CO;2

Pavón-Salas N., Herrera R., Hernández-Guerra A., et al. 2000. Distributional patterns of seagrasses in the Canary Islands (Central - East Atlantic Ocean). J. Coast. Res. 16: 328-335.

Peduzzi P., Vukovic A. 1990. Primary production of Cymodocea nodosa in the Gulf of Trieste (Northern Adriatic Sea): a comparison of methods. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 64: 197-207.

Pérez-Ruzafa A., Marcos C., Ros, J. 1991. Environmental and Biological changes related to recent human activities in the Mar Menor. Mar. Poll. Bull. 23: 747-751.

Pollard D.A. 1984. A review of ecological studies on seagrass fish communities, with particular reference to recent studies in Australia. Aquat. Bot. 18: 3-42.

Reyes J., Sansón M., Afonso-Carrillo J. 1995. Leaf phenology, growth and production of the seagrass Cymodocea nodosa at El Médano (South of Tenerife, Canary Islands). Bot. Mar. 38: 457-465.

Rismondo A., Curiel D., Marzocchi M., et al. 1997. Seasonal pattern of Cymodocea nodosa biomass and production in the Lagoon of Venice. Aquat. Bot. 58: 55-64.

Short F.T., Polidoro B., Livingstone S.R., et al. 2011. Extinction risk assessment of the world's seagrass species. Biol. Conserv. 144: 1961-1971.

Terrados J., Ros J.D. 1993. Limitación por nutrientes del crecimiento de Cymodocea nodosa (Ucria) Ascherson en sedimentos carbonatados en el Mar Menor, Murcia, SE de Espa-a. Publ. Esp. Inst. Esp. Oceanogr. 11: 9-14.

Tuya F., Martín J.A., Luque A. 2002. Impact of a marina construction on a seagrass bed at Lanzarote (Canary Islands). J. Coast. Conserv. 8: 157-162.[0157:IOAMCO]2.0.CO;2

Tuya F., Martín J.A., Luque A. 2006. Seasonal cycle of a Cymodocea nodosa seagrass meadow and of the associated ichthyofauna at Playa Dorada (Lanzarote, Canary Islands, eastern Atlantic). Cienc. Mar. 32: 695-704.

Tuya F., Hernandez-Zerpa H., Espino F., et al. 2013a. Drastic decadal decline of the seagrass Cymodocea nodosa at Gran Canaria (eastern Atlantic): Interactions with the green algae Caulerpa prolifera. Aquat. Bot. 105: 1-6.

Tuya F., Espino F., Terrados J. 2013b. Preservation of seagrass clonal integration buffers against burial stress. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 439: 42-46.

Tuya F., Ribeiro-Leite L., Arto-Cuesta N., et al. 2014a. Decadal changes in the structure of Cymodocea nodosa seagrass meadows: Natural vs. human influences. Est. Coast. Shelf Sci. 137: 41-49.

Tuya F., Png-Gonzalez L., Riera R., et al. 2014b. Ecological structure and function differs between habitats dominated by seagrasses and green seaweeds. Marine Environ. Res. 98: 1-13. PMid:24836641

Waycott M., Duarte C.M., Carruthers T.J.B., et al. 2009. Accelerating loss of seagrasses across the globe threatens coastal ecosystems. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 106: 12377-12381. PMid:19587236 PMCid:PMC2707273



How to Cite

Fabbri F, Espino F, Herrera R, Moro L, Haroun R, Riera R, González-Henriquez N, Bergasa O, Monterroso O, Ruiz de la Rosa M, Tuya F. Trends of the seagrass Cymodocea nodosa (Magnoliophyta) in the Canary Islands: population changes in the last two decades. scimar [Internet]. 2015Mar.30 [cited 2022Aug.8];79(1):7-13. Available from:



Featured Article

Most read articles by the same author(s)

1 2 > >>