Balestri, E., F. Vallerini and C. Lardicci
The use of fragments detached naturally from Posidonia oceanica, a threatened seagrass protected by European legislation, as non-destructive alternative to removing cuttings from donor meadows for restoration efforts has been recently proposed. A 4-year study was performed to investigate whether storm-generated fragments deposited on beaches can be salvaged and used as transplant source. Four months after collection, fragment survival was high (80–96%). Half of the fragments regenerated and survived as long as 3 years in tanks. Initial growth form and size were not predictors of fragment survival or regeneration probability. Division of fragments allowed doubling transplant number. One year after transplanting, 50% of the fragments on the artificial reef were still present and ca. half of them produced new shoots. This indicates that fragments retain the capacity to re-establish once reintroduced into the field and thus could represent a potentially important transplant source. The use of this material could have major advantages over traditional restoration techniques, including large availability with zero impact on existing populations and low collection efforts.