Defining seagrass health for reef management

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Major flood events in North Queensland (such as those that recently hit Townsville and other communities) can send massive flood plumes out toward the Great Barrier Reef. These flood plumes can transport huge quantities of sediment and pollutants like pesticides and dissolved inorganic nitrogen out to the World Heritage area and affect seagrass meadows, which are the focus of a Tropical Water Quality Hub project led by Dr Catherine Collier. Seagrass plays a vital role in reef health, providing shelter and food for species like dugong and green turtles, in addition to cycling nutrients, capturing carbon and – importantly – acting as a key health indicator for the Great Barrier Reef as a whole. The ongoing research project led by Dr Catherine Collier at James Cook University aims to provide a framework to define desired seagrass state, which will inform seagrass management decisions for several different bodies, including the Queensland and Australian Governments, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s Reef Integrated Monitoring Program and the Paddock to Reef Program. The project’s outputs to date, including a technical report released midway through its progress, are available on the Tropical Water Quality Hub website.