Seagrass meadows are among the most productive and diverse marine ecosystems, providing essential structure, functions, and services. They are also among the most impacted by human activities and in urgent need of better management and protection. In Canada, eelgrass (Zostera marina) meadows are found along the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic coasts, and thus occur across a wide range of biogeographic conditions. Here, we synthesize knowledge of eelgrass ecosystems across Canada’s coasts, highlighting commonalities and differences in environmental conditions, plant, habitat, and community structure, as well as current trends and human impacts. Across regions, eelgrass life history, phenology, and general species assemblages are similar. However, distinct regional differences occur in environmental conditions, particularly with water temperature and nutrient availability. There is considerable variation in the types and strengths of human activities among regions. The impacts of coastal development are prevalent in all regions, while other impacts are of concern for specific regions, e.g., nutrient loading in the Atlantic and impacts from the logging industry in the Pacific. In addition, climate change represents a growing threat to eelgrass meadows. We review current management and conservation efforts and discuss the implications of observed differences from coast to coast to coast.
Murphy GEP, Dunic JC, Adamczyk EM, Bittick SJ, Côté IM, Cristiani J, Geissinger EA, Gregory RS, Lotze HK, O’Connor MI, Araújo CAS, Rubidge EM, Templeman ND, and Wong MC. 2021. From coast to coast to coast: ecology and management of seagrass ecosystems across Canada. FACETS 6: 139–179. doi:10.1139/ facets-2020-0020