Philippine Journal of Science
142: 95-111, Special Issue
ISSN 0031 - 7683



A Review: Biodiversity, Distribution and Conservation of Philippine Seagrasses

Miguel D. Fortes

Marine Science Institute CS, University of the Philippines,
Diliman, Quezon City 1101 Philippines


Eighteen seagrass species were found from 529 sites in the Philippines. In relation to seagrass as a resource in need of protection, its status as such is yet largely unknown, becoming a focus of scientific inquiry only in the last 30 years and, and as an object of conservation, only in the last 15 years. The coastal nature of Philippine demography, in addition to numerous development facilities, have caused eutrophication of marine waters, which, along with habitat loss, is a major long-term threat to seagrass ecosystems. Some advancements in seagrass research were made locally that are useful steps to reverse seagrass habitat loss. These steps include (1) focusing research on management issues; (2) developing an integrated framework for action; (3) undertaking an economic valuation of the resource; (4) using available scientific knowledge as a means to forge public-private partnerships; (5) ensuring a functional coordination among concerned agencies; and (6) ensuring high quality scientific publications.


Seagrasses are angiosperms thriving best in slightly reducing sediments of shallow tropical and subtropical coasts. Here, they form an ecosystem, dominating it as a discrete functional, not as a taxonomic group (McKenzie et al. 2010). As ecotone between mangrove forests and coral reefs, it is home to many marine organisms with economic value, including shrimps, sea urchins, various fish species, and endangered animals like sea turtles and the charismatic dugong, Dugong dugon, some 95% of whose diet is seagrass. Many seaweed farms in Southeast Asia and in eastern tropical Africa are established in seagrass beds, although its environmental soundness remains questionable. Seagrasses are sensitive to both biological and physical fluctuations, making them useful indicators of changes not easily observable in either coral reef or mangrove forest. As an ecosystem, its unique ecological.. . . . read more