Sensitivity to Human Activities

A large proportion of the UK’s population lives on or adjacent to the coast. As a result, pollution, development and recreation pressures are increasingly affecting the coastal environment, and their impacts can be especially acute in the shallow bays, estuaries and lagoons where Zostera biotopes most commonly occur. Holt et al. (1995, 1997) concluded that Z. marina is extremely sensitive to human-induced changes in the coastal environment, particularly in relation to eutrophication, sedimentation and turbidity. In addition to the direct impacts on Zostera plants, many human activities will affect the other species associated with the eelgrass biotope. In some cases, the eelgrass fauna may be more susceptible than the Zostera itself.

This section considers the range of human activities that have been shown to affect the extent and viability of Zostera beds and their associated flora and fauna. Human impacts can be conveniently grouped into the following broad categories:

  • Coastal development
  • Water pollution
  • Physical disturbance
  • Introduction of non-native species
  • Effects on wildfowl distribution and behaviour

In addition, human-induced climate change may ultimately prove to have significant consequences for the distribution and health of coastal biotopes, including eelgrass beds, although its likely effects are difficult to predict.

Coastal Development

Water Pollution

Physical Disturbance

Introduction of Non-Native Species

Effects on Wildfowl Distribution and Behaviour

Human-Induced Climate Change