New distribution record of globally threatened Ocean Turf Grass Halophila beccarii Ascherson, 1871 from the North Andaman Islands highlights the importance of seagrass exploratory surveys

Main Article Content

Swapnali Gole
Prasad Gaidhani
Srabani Bose
Anant Pande
Jeyaraj Antony Johnson
Sivakumar Kuppusamy


Halophila beccarii, listed as ‘Vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List, aids in seagrass and mangrove succession, acts as a substrate stabilizer and provides feeding grounds for mega-herbivores like dugongs. This species was first recorded from the Andaman & Nicobar Islands in 2015, and its distribution status within the archipelago remains under-investigated. We report a new distribution record of H. beccarii from the North Andamans and shed light on its inter-island distribution. H. beccarii was recorded from a mixed meadow comprising of Cymodocea rotundata (20.5 ± 28.8%, mean seagrass cover), Thalassia hemprichii (16.3 ± 23.3%, mean seagrass cover), and Halodule pinifolia (6.3 ± 12.1%, mean seagrass cover) at Pokkadera, North and Middle Andaman district. H. beccarii had the highest mean seagrass cover (30 ± 34.7%) and shoot density (103.5 ± 68.3 shoots/ m2) among sympatric seagrass species. We also recorded eight seagrass-associated macrofaunal groups (gastropods, bivalves, polychaetes, foraminiferans, nematodes, brachyurans, decapods and asteroids) from the infaunal and epibenthic micro-habitats within the meadow. Infaunal macrobenthos had a much higher density (73.5 ± 129.7 individuals/m2) than the epibenthic macrofauna (0.4 ± 1.5 individuals/m2), possibly influenced by the seagrass canopy structure and biomass. Overall, gastropods were the most dominant macrobenthic faunal group (overall mean 95.0 ± 106.1 individuals/m2). The present findings emphasize the need for more exploratory surveys to understand H. beccarii distribution in the Andaman & Nicobar archipelago to identify priority conservation areas. 

Article Details

How to Cite
Swapnali Gole, Prasad Gaidhani, Srabani Bose, Anant Pande, Jeyaraj Antony Johnson and Kuppusamy, S. 2022. New distribution record of globally threatened Ocean Turf Grass Halophila beccarii Ascherson, 1871 from the North Andaman Islands highlights the importance of seagrass exploratory surveys. Journal of Threatened Taxa. 14, 1 (Jan. 2022), 20406–20412. DOI:


Aye, A., A. Hsan & U. Soe-Htun (2014). The Morphotaxonomy and Phytosociology of Halophila beccarii (Family: Hydrocharitaceae) in Kalegauk Island, Mon State. Mawlamyine University Research Journal 5(1): 1–15.

Census Directorate (2011). Provisional population total: rural-urban distribution, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, 18 pp.

Das, H. (1996). Status of Seagrass habitats of Andaman and Nicobar Coast. SACON, Coimbatore, India, Technical Report No. 4, 32 pp.

Dhiman, R., P. Kalbar & A.B. Inamdar (2019). Spatial planning of coastal urban areas in India: current practice versus quantitative approach. Ocean & Coastal Management 182: 104929.

D’Souza, E., V. Patankar, R. Arthur, N. Marbà & T. Alcoverro (2015). Seagrass Herbivory Levels Sustain Site-Fidelity in a Remnant Dugong Population. PLoS ONE (10): 1–18.

English S., C. Wilkinson, & V. Baker (1997). Survey manual of Tropical Marine Resources: 2nd Edition. Australian Institute Resources, Townsville, 385 pp.

Fauchald, K. (1977). The Polychaete worms. Definitions and keys to the orders, families and genera. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Science Series, 28: 188.

Green, E.P. & F. T. Short (2003). World Atlas of Seagrasses. University of California Press, Berkeley, USA, 324 pp.

Ingole B., S. Sivadas, M. Nanajkar, S. Sautya, & A. Nag (2009). A comparative study of macrobenthic community from harbours along the central west coast of India. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 154(1–4): 135–146.

Jagtap, T. (1991). Distribution of seagrass along the Indian coast. Aquatic Botany 40: 379–386.

Jagtap, T. (1992). Marine flora of Nicobar group of Islands, Andaman Sea. Indian Journal of Marine Sciences 22: 56–58.

Jagtap, T., D. Komarpant & R. Rodrigues (2003). Status of a seagrass ecosystem: An ecologically sensitive wetland habitat from India. Wetlands 23(1): 161–170.[0161:SOASEA]2.0.CO;2

Kaladharan, P., P.U. Zacharia & K.V. Kumaran (2011). Coastal and marine floral biodiversity along the Karnataka coast. Journal of Marine Biological Association of India 53(1): 121–129.

Keppner, E. & A. Tarjan (1989). Illustrated Key to the Genera of Free-Living Marine Nematodes of the Order Enoplida. NOAA Technical Report NMFS 77, 26 pp.

Lee, S., C. Fong & R. Wu (2001). The effects of seagrass (Zostera japonica) canopy structure on associated fauna: a study using artificial seagrass units and sampling of natural beds. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 259(1): 23–50.

Leopardas, V., W. Uy & M. Nakaoka (2014). Benthic macrofaunal assemblages in multispecific seagrass meadows of the southern Philippines: Variation among vegetation dominated by different seagrass species. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 457: 71–80.

Mathews, G., D. Raj, T. Thinesh, J. Patterson, J.K. Edward & D. Wilhelmsson (2010). Status of seagrass diversity, distribution and abundance in Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park and Palk Bay (Pamban to Thondi) south eastern India. South Indian Coastal and Marine Bulletin 2: 1–21.

Nobi, E. & T. Thangaradjou (2012). Evaluation of the spatial changes in seagrass cover in the lagoons of Lakshadweep Islands, India, using IRS LISS III satellite images. Geocarto International 27(8): 647–660.

Nowicki, R., J. Thomson., D. Burkholder, J. Fourqurean & M. Heithaus (2017). Predicting seagrass recovery times and their implications following an extreme climate event. Marine Ecology Progress Series 567: 79–93.

Orth, R., K. Heck & J. Montfrans (1984). Faunal Communities in Seagrass Beds: A Review of the Influence of Plant Structure and Prey Characteristics on Predator-Prey Relationships. Estuaries 7(4A): 339–350.

Ragavan, R., R. Jayaraj, M. Muruganantham, C. Jeeva, V. Ubare, A. Saxena & P. Mohan (2016). Species Composition and Distribution of Sea grasses of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Vegetos 29: 78–87.

Ramesh, R., K. Banerjee, A. Paneerselvam, A. Lakshmi, P. Krishnan & R. Purvaja (2018). Legislation and policy options for conservation and management of seagrass ecosystems in India. Ocean and Coastal Management 159: 46–50.

Sasaki, T. (2008). Micromolluscs in Japan: Taxonomic composition, habitats, and future topics. Zoosymposia 1: 147–232.

Savurirajan, M., R.K. Lakra & T. Ganesh (2015). A new record of the seagrass Halophila beccarii Ascherson from the Port Blair coast, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India. Botanica Marina 58: 409–413.

Short, F.T., R. Coles, M. Waycott, J.S. Bujang, M. Fortes, A. Prathep, A.H.M. Kamal, T. Jagtap, S. Bandeira, A. Freeman, P. Erftemeijer, Y. La Nafie, S. Vergara, H.P. Calumpong & I. Makm (2010). Halophila beccarii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Sridhar, R., T. Thangaradjou, L. Kannan & S. Astalakshmi (2010). Assessment of coastal bio resources of the Palk Bay, India, using IRS LISS-III data. Journal of the Indian Society of Remote Sensing 38: 565–575.

Sturm, C.F., T.A. Pearce & A. Valdés (eds.) (2006). The Mollusks: A Guide to Their Study, Collection, and Preservation, Vol. 2. American Malacological Society, Pittsburgh and Universal Publishers, U.S.A, xii+445 pp.

Su, Z., G. Qiu, H. Fan & C. Fang (2020). Seagrass beds store less carbon but support more macrobenthos than mangrove forests. Marine Environmental Research 162: 105162.

Thangaradjou, T., R. Sridhar, S.S. Kumar & S. Kannan (2008). Seagrass resource assessment in the Mandapam coast of the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere reserve, India. Applied Ecology and Environmental Research 6(1): 139–146.

Thangaradjou, T. & J. Bhatt (2018). Status of seagrass ecosystems in India. Ocean & Coastal Management 159: 7–15.

Vonk, J., J. A. Christianen, J. Stapel & K. O’Brien (2015). What lies beneath: Why knowledge of belowground biomass dynamics is crucial to effective seagrass management. Ecological Indicators 57: 259–267.

Waycott, M., K. Mc Mahon, J. Mellors, A. Calladine & D. Kleine (2004). A guide to tropical seagrasses of the Indo-West Pacific. James Cook University Townsville, Queensland, Australia, 72 pp.