Seagrass - Salt
Marsh - Anadromous
It is important to carefully consider and prioritize
the selection of seagrass restoration sites. Because funds for restoration
are limited, it is essential that the site selection process generates
a list of alternatives that offer the best chance of achieving the
greatest output, both in terms of acreage restored, and the degree
of function achieved.
Site Selection | Goals
& Objectives | Baseline Data | Funding
Unsuccessful seagrass restoration projects are usually the result
of improper site selection (Fonseca 1994). Salinity, depth, current and wave
energy, water clarity, water temperature, sediment characteristics,
and surface water quality are all important factors to evaluate
in the selection of a restoration site. Depth and water clarity
exert the primary controls over seagrass zonation and the degree
of colonization by epiphytes. The parameters of the transplant site
must closely match that of the donor, or reference site, if restoration
success is to be realized (Kenworthy and Fonseca 1977, Phillips
1980a, Fonseca and Fisher 1986, Fonseca et al. 1987a, Fonseca et
Save The Bay and University of Rhode Island (URI) Graduate School of Oceanography (GSO) have
developed a GIS-based seagrass site selection tool for Narragansett
Bay. Model inputs include depth, light intensity, and presence of
current and historical eelgrass beds. This model is based on a similar
model developed by Dr. Fred Short (at the University of New Hampshire).
NOAA, in partnership with Save The Bay, Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC), and the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) Narragansett Bay Estuary Program, has expanded the Bay
model to include all of coastal Rhode Island. This site selection
tool incorporates depth, light, temperature, and the presence of
current and historical eelgrass beds in order to prioritize areas
for potential restoration. It also provides users with the
ability to further prioritize areas based on commercial and recreational
use in order to limit potential use conflicts. More details on the
tool and its availability for use in restoration planning can be
accessed in the Seagrass Site
Selection Tool section of this Web site.
A considerable number of potential locations for eelgrass restoration
may be present in Narragansett Bay and along Rhode Island's South
Shore. Evaluation of site-specific factors (e.g., water
quality and clarity, navigation constraints, fisheries, transplant and seeding
costs, etc) would result in a prioritization or ranking of potential
sites to be considered for funding. The Seagrass Site Selection
tool can be a valuable aid in the site screening and prioritization
Goals and Objectives
As with restoration of other coastal habitats, eelgrass restoration
project goals and objectives must be clearly defined and consistent
(Fonseca 1994, Pastorok et al. 1997, Short et al. 2000). It is important
to determine the goal and objectives of an eelgrass restoration
project at the outset. Eelgrass restoration projects that lack clearly
defined goals and objectives are less likely to achieve success,
and in many cases it may be impossible to gauge success in the absence
of a clearly defined project plan.
Project goals refer to the ecosystem attributes to be restored,
such as water quality and clarity, hydrodynamics, epiphyte or macroalgae
communities, or finfish and shellfish resources. Project objectives
are more precise, and may include the specific characteristics of
water quality, hydrodynamics, or plant and animal communities to
be restored. Performance indicators are developed during the life
of the project and represent measurable characteristics such as
the percent cover of eelgrass transplant units, or the number of
stems per transplant.
An example of a goal for an eelgrass restoration project in Rhode
Island could be to restore eelgrass to a particular area that has
undergone considerable improvement in water quality in recent years.
The objective of such a project might be to re-establish native
eelgrass to a coverage of 60 percent of the designated study area within
three years post-construction.
Baseline Data Collection
Detailed site characterizations are needed to formulate site-specific
restoration plans and to develop success criteria for individual
projects. Examples of baseline data that are collected during pre-restoration
baseline surveys of eelgrass transplant sites may include:
- water quality (ammonium, nitrite/nitrate, phosphorus, dissolved
and particulate organic carbon, chlorophyll a, turbidity,
total suspended solids [TSS])
- light attenuation
- current/wave energy
- epiphyte load
- utilization of the site by fish or macrocrustaceans
- benthic invertebrate communities
For more details on how these data are collected, please see Habitat
The costs of restoration are largely dependent on site-specific conditions and the types of restoration and monitoring activities planned for a project (see Cost Analysis for details).
A variety of federal and non-federal funding opportunities are available
to support seagrass restoration in Rhode Island. These funds are
available to a wide range of organizations including state and local
agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGO). A comprehensive list of funding opportunities
for seagrass restoration in Rhode Island is available from this
site in the Funding Opportunities
Permitting and Regulatory Considerations
Agencies, NGO's or individuals proposing the restoration of
seagrass beds in Rhode Island must secure a variety of permits prior
to construction of the project. These permits may include a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)
Clean Water Act section 404 permit, a CRMC permit, and a DEM water
quality certification. Specific information on the permitting process,
CRMC and USACE permit applications, and contact information for
all permitting agencies is available in the Permitting
Process section of this site.
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Fonseca, M.S. 1994. A guide to transplanting seagrasses in the
Gulf of Mexico. Texas A&M University Sea Grant College Program,
Fonseca, M.S. and J.S. Fisher. 1986. A comparison of canopy friction
and sediment movement between four species of seagrass with reference
to their ecology and restoration. Marine Ecology Progress Series
Fonseca, M.S., W.J. Kenworthy, and G.W. Thayer. 1987a. Transplanting
of the seagrasses Halodule wrightii, Syringodium filiforme,
and Thalassia testudinum for sediment stabilization and
habitat development in the southeast region of the United States.
Technical Report EL-87-8, U.S. Army Engineer Waterways Experiment
Station, Vicksburg, Mississippi.
Fonseca, M.S., W.J. Kenworthy, and G.W. Thayer. 1998. Guidelines
for the conservation and restoration of seagrasses in the United
States and adjacent waters. NOAA Coastal Ocean Program Decision
Analysis Series No. 12. NOAA Coastal Ocean Office, Silver Spring,
Kenworthy, W.J. and M. Fonseca. 1977. Reciprocal transplant of
the seagrass Zostera marina L. effect of substrate on growth.
Pastorok, R.A., A. MacDonald, J.R. Sampson, P. Wilber, D.J. Yozzo,
and J.P. Titre. 1997. An ecological decision framework for environmental
restoration projects. Ecological Engineering 9:89-107.
Phillips, R.C. 1980a. Planting guidelines for seagrasses. Coastal
Engineering Technical Aid No. 80-2. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Coastal Engineering Research Center, Fort Belvoir, Virginia.
Short, F.T., D.M. Burdick, C.A. Short, R.C. Davis, and P.A. Morgan.
2000. Developing success criteria for restored eelgrass, salt marsh
and mud flat habitats. Ecological Engineering 15:239-252.
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This site was created through
a partnership of the:
Coastal Resources Management Council
Narragansett Bay Estuary Program
Save The Bay®