Ecosystem functioning recovery after restoration of seagrass Posidonia oceanica

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Castejón-Silvo Inés, Terrados Jorge

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Seagrass Posidonia oceanica meadows are declining throughout the Mediterranean coasts. This slow-growing, engineering species creates habitat for at least 700 identified taxons and provides for invaluable services such as carbon sink or coastal protection. The restoration techniques of P. oceanica are incipient and most of published experiences describe small-scale trials that test plant survivorship after replantation under different experimental conditions. This is the first medium scale (i.e. 12800 fragments of rhizome of adult P. oceanica planted in a 2Ha surface) transplantation experience. We joined previous published evidences to maximize plant survivorship and, for the first time in this ecosystem, we designed a monitoring program to evaluate not only plant survivorship but also ecosystem functioning recovery. Transplant survival rate is evaluated yearly. A quarter of the transplants were morphologically characterized before transplantation and their vegetative development over time is followed in situ yearly. Additionally, some transplanted fragments are sacrificed yearly to assess root development and nutrient content changes since planting. Epifauna community associated to transplanted area is followed yearly since 2018 and compared with the community in the nearby natural (control) meadow and the non-replanted area. After 18-30 months fragments survival rate was between 97-99%. There were not morphological differences between initial and sacrificed fragments nor in the associated epifauna community among non-transplanted and transplanted area. A reduction in rhizome nitrogen content occurs in transplants. These results are hopeful but also indicate that transplantation is in an early stage and does not provide a significant change in ecosystem services (habitat provision) yet.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

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