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New Deakin study finds sea urchins major culprits in CO2 emissions

Overgrazing of sea urchins has led to the destruction of seagrass beds. A new study into the impact of this shows that the destruction of seagrass root systems can lead to erosion and may increase the risk of climate change by eliminating a carbon sink.

Dr. Paul Carnell from the Centre for Integrative Ecology within Deakin’s School of Life and Environmental Sciences is the lead author on the study. Dr. Carnell has said that "seagrasses are among Earth's most efficient ecosystems for trapping carbon, but they’re in global decline due to changes in ocean temperatures, pollution and overgrazing by creatures such as sea urchins".

During the study Dr. Carnell and his team spent three years using aerial and sonar mapping, 3D reconstructions, and soil carbon measurements to monitor the impact of sea urchin overgrazing in South Gippsland’s Nooramunga Marine and Coastal Park.

In attempts to reduce this issue, Parks Victoria now uses sea urchin culling in Nooramunga and fishing permits have been issued in attempts to control the population.

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