Proposed Abstract Title

Eelgrass (Zostera marina L.) habitat creation in the Salish Sea.

Type of Presentation

Oral

Session Title

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

Location

2016SSEC

Comments

Historical habitat impacts along the coast of the Pacific Northwest have led to a loss of eelgrass habitat and continual development pressures threaten to reduce the amount of remaining eelgrass habitat.

The cascading effects of eelgrass habitat loss on fisheries was recognized and led to the development of methods to restore eelgrass habitat through transplanting. Several methods were developed in the 1970s and 1980s, primarily along the eastern seaboard of the United States. Initial attempts to transplant eelgrass in the Pacific Northwest using these techniques were less than successful.

A transplant method was developed in the mid 1990s in British Columbia that has proven highly successful. The method considers genetic variation between populations of eelgrass, seasonality, and the hydrodynamic regime of transplant area. Additionally, the potential affects of sea level rise and climate change should be considered when selecting new transplant sites.

The method has been used at over 100 sites since 1994. The transplanted areas typically achieve natural density and cover within three years. The first transplant site of 5,400 m2 in 1994, has provided donor stock for several subsequent transplants. The largest project transplanted 2.09 hectares; it also achieved success within three years.

The transplant projects typically involve local community members including; First Nations, Stewardship groups, and/or local citizens. The community members are trained to prepare the eelgrass for transplant and learn about the importance of this species.

The transplant method will be described and the factors that have contributed to successful restoration and compensation discussed. Several case studies will be profiled.

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Eelgrass (Zostera marina L.) habitat creation in the Salish Sea.

2016SSEC