Benmokhtar et al. 2023. Monitoring the Spatial and Interannual Dynamic of Zostera Noltei

Benmokhtar, Salma, Marc Robin, Mohamed Maanan, Soilam Boutoumit, Bouabid Badaoui, and Hocein Bazairi. 2023. “Monitoring the Spatial and Interannual Dynamic of Zostera Noltei.” Wetlands 43(5):43. doi: 10.1007/s13157-023-01690-7.

Seagrass is a vital structural and functional element of the marine environment worldwide and is highly valued for its ecological benefits. Monitoring the evolution of the seagrass habitat is essential to understand how this coastal ecosystem changes, and to develop good environmental management practices. For the present study, two remote sensing methods were used to map and monitor Zostera noltei Hornemann, 1832 (Z. noltei ), in the Merja Zerga lagoon from 2010 to 2020. These methods which are the random forest algorithm and the object-oriented classification, were convenient to provide significant results. The first approach employed Sentinel-2 images from 2018 to 2020, which were used to extract information on changes in Z. noltei (commonly called dwarf eelgrass) distribution and aboveground biomass estimation. The second involved three orthophotography (orthophoto) mosaics from the years 2010, 2016, and 2018, which were analyzed to map the distribution of the species. It was revealed that Z. noltei coverage has increased by 212 ha since 2010, with most of the growth occurring in the center and upstream part of the lagoon. The mean aboveground biomass of dwarf eelgrass in the lagoon was 78.5 DW/m² in 2018, 92.6 DW/m² in 2019, and 115.2 g DW/m² in 2020. The approach used in this study has provided important insights into the dynamic and mean biomass of Z. noltei in the Merja Zerga lagoon. It is therefore a valuable, non-destructive method that uses freely-available Sentinel-2 satellite data.