Proposed Abstract Title

Eelgrass (Zostera marina) restoration in Puget Sound: obstacles, surprises, and lessons learned

Type of Presentation

Oral

Session Title

Challenges and opportunities related to habitat enhancement, restoration, and ecosystem productivity in the Salish Sea

Location

2016SSEC

Description

Seagrasses are in decline globally causing concern for the impacts of losses on ecosystems and forcing managers to seek solutions to reverse the trend. Locally, eelgrass restoration has become a priority and many efforts are being taken throughout the Salish Sea to increase eelgrass abundance. While progress is being made, success is never guaranteed. The restoration process is continually evolving as we learn from each project – whether a success or a failure. Over time, potential difficulties have been identified at multiple scales that can hinder restoration efforts. For example, data to populate our Puget Sound restoration site selection model, both for water quality and eelgrass physiological responses, are often unavailable at the local or regional scales for making the best informed decisions when siting projects. At the site level, specific challenges with substrate suitability in habitat engineering or biological disturbances (e.g., crab burrowing and algal blooms) can reduce restoration success. The challenges also expand to difficulties in legal procedures (e.g., permitting), competition for land use (e.g., aquaculture leases), resource deficiencies (e.g., inadequate funds for monitoring), and environmental limitations (e.g., eutrophication and suspended sediments). Some of these obstacles can be addressed within the project but others will require collaborations and larger investments of time and resources. However, seeking solutions for individual problems, forcing the restoration process to evolve, and adaptively managing restoration activities continues to improve chances for success and meeting restoration objectives in the Salish Sea.

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Eelgrass (Zostera marina) restoration in Puget Sound: obstacles, surprises, and lessons learned

2016SSEC

Seagrasses are in decline globally causing concern for the impacts of losses on ecosystems and forcing managers to seek solutions to reverse the trend. Locally, eelgrass restoration has become a priority and many efforts are being taken throughout the Salish Sea to increase eelgrass abundance. While progress is being made, success is never guaranteed. The restoration process is continually evolving as we learn from each project – whether a success or a failure. Over time, potential difficulties have been identified at multiple scales that can hinder restoration efforts. For example, data to populate our Puget Sound restoration site selection model, both for water quality and eelgrass physiological responses, are often unavailable at the local or regional scales for making the best informed decisions when siting projects. At the site level, specific challenges with substrate suitability in habitat engineering or biological disturbances (e.g., crab burrowing and algal blooms) can reduce restoration success. The challenges also expand to difficulties in legal procedures (e.g., permitting), competition for land use (e.g., aquaculture leases), resource deficiencies (e.g., inadequate funds for monitoring), and environmental limitations (e.g., eutrophication and suspended sediments). Some of these obstacles can be addressed within the project but others will require collaborations and larger investments of time and resources. However, seeking solutions for individual problems, forcing the restoration process to evolve, and adaptively managing restoration activities continues to improve chances for success and meeting restoration objectives in the Salish Sea.