Zostera Mitigation Projects

Owing to the general lack of natural recovery of seagrass beds from wasting disease, numerous workers in North America and Australia, and to a lesser extent in Europe, have put a great deal of effort into seagrass restoration projects, concentrating on researching methods for transplanting seagrasses into suitable areas.

The UK Biodiversity Action Plan for seagrasses recognises that there is a need to restore areas of Zostera beds. Ranwell et al. (1974) outlined three reasons for attempting to transplant eelgrasses.

1) To replenish stocks in areas damaged by natural events or human activities

2) To create new eelgrass beds to compensate for those lost to land claim and development

3) To study variations in growth patterns between Zostera species and to detect distinct varieties

In the UK, large-scale transplantation trials have taken place in a number of locations around the south coast of England. All trials had limited early success but in the longer term, the plants either disappeared altogether or the transplanted areas did not expand. Transplantation techniques in the UK are still developing and there is potential for future, long-term success. The transplantation of Zostera and other seagrasses in the USA has been more successful, particularly in warmer latitudes. A number of transplanting techniques are employed, using plugs, turfs, individual mature plants (turions) and seeds. Transplantation is reviewed in detail in Davison (1997a).

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