February 1st to 5th 2016
Olhão, Portugal
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Challenges of open ocean seagrass restoration

Scientific Exhibition
Habitat Loss and Ocean Noise
Thursday, February 4, 2016 -
17:30 to 19:30

Paulo, D. 1 Cunha, A. 2 Fonseca, M. 3 Boavida, J. 4 Serrão, E.A. 5

1Centre of Marine Sciences (CCMAR), University of Algarve, Campus de Gambelas, 8005-139 Faro, Portugal
2Centre of Marine Sciences (CCMAR), University of Algarve, Campus de Gambelas, 8005-139 Faro, Portugal
3CSA Ocean Sciences Inc. 8502 SW Kansas Ave., Stuart, FL 34997, USA
4Centre of Marine Sciences (CCMAR), University of Algarve, Campus de Gambelas, 8005-139 Faro, Portugal
5Centre of Marine Sciences (CCMAR), University of Algarve, Campus de Gambelas, 8005-139 Faro, Portugal

Open ocean restoration of seagrasses poses special challenges, both logistical and environmental, as periodic high wave energy limits operations and can quickly erode or bury seagrasses that have not reached abundance in equilibrium with the disturbance regime. A large-scale seagrass restoration operation was undertaken in a Marine Park in Portugal (LIFE Biomares project), an open ocean setting that lost all 30 ha of seagrass cover over the last 2 decades, presumably from human impacts. Between 2007 and 2013, Zostera marina, Z. noltii and Cymodocea nodosa were transplanted, creating 61 restoration sites. We tested survival and persistence of the three seagrass species, transplanted from two donor populations, in different seasons (Spring to Autumn) with two different initial planting areas. All transplants survived and increased, either in density or area, for at least some time. The average transplant persistence was 9 months, with one site persisting >50 months, during which the initial transplant area increased by more than four times, from 11 to 50 m2. The data indicate that transplant persistence at this location may benefit from the rapid creation, in spring, of large patches of Z. marina. We propose that meadow restoration success is significantly improved by surpassing area cover tipping points of vulnerability beyond which seagrass coverage is sufficient to resist the most common perturbation levels.
keywords: 
Open ocean restoration; Zostera marina; Z. noltii; Cymodocea nodosa; seagrass transplants.

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