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Research article2020Peer reviewedOpen access

Effects of boat traffic and mooring infrastructure on aquatic vegetation: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Sagerman, Josefin; Hansen, Joakim P.; Wikstrom, Sofia A.


Sustainable management of coastal and inland water areas requires knowledge of how tourism and recreation affects the ecosystems. Here, we present the first systematic review and meta-analysis to quantify to what extent recreational boat traffic and infrastructure for mooring affect the abundance of submerged vegetation on soft bottoms. Our systematic search yielded 25 studies containing data on effects of boat traffic, docks and mooring buoys on vegetation abundance. The abundance below docks was on average 18% of that in controls, and areas with boat traffic had on average 42% of the abundance in control areas. Mooring buoys often created scour areas without vegetation. However, the effects were variable and there were too few studies to test the reasons for this variability. We conclude that boating can cause significant declines in submerged vegetation but that informed management of boat traffic and improved design of docks and buoys can reduce negative impacts.


Boat traffic; Docks; Macrophytes; Marinas; Mooring buoys; Seagrass

Published in

AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment
2020, Volume: 49, number: 2, pages: 517-530
Publisher: SPRINGER

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    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG12 Responsible consumption and production
    SDG14 Life below water

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