Barrier Island Seagrass Community Restoration

Full Title: A decision-driven integrated ecosystem approach to maximize benefits of barrier island restoration and management of the Chandeleur Islands for seagrass and associated communities

This project will scope and design a plan to address the uncertainties of restoring seagrasses and associated communities along barrier islands in Louisiana, which will inform the restoration and long-term adaptive management of the Chandeleur Islands.

Lead Investigator: Kelly Darnell, The University of Southern Mississippi, kelly.darnell@usm.edu

Natural Resource Manager: Jon Hemming, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Ann Howard, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

Project Team: Tim J.B. Carruthers, P. Soupy Dalyander, and Mike Miner (The Water Institute of the Gulf); Laura Reynolds (University of Florida); and Ali Robertson (Gulf of Mexico Alliance)

Federal Program Officer/Point of Contact: Frank Parker (frank.parker@noaa.gov)

Award Amount: $127,065

Award Period: This project began in September 2021 and will end in August 2022.

Why it matters: The Deepwater Horizon caused damages to the ecosystems of barrier islands in Louisiana. Researchers and managers have begun the initial stages of a plan to restore the Chandeleur Islands in Louisiana. To optimally design, build, and maintain the restoration project, the team must address several uncertainties, including a better understanding of the distribution of seagrass species, the organisms supported by seagrasses, the effects of climate variability and dynamics of redistributed sand.

What the team is doing: This project will scope and design a plan to address these uncertainties and inform the restoration and long-term adaptive management of the Chandeleur Islands through a co-production framework. The project team will conduct a comprehensive review of literature, models, and available data, and engage with additional stakeholders to develop goals, questions, and sound methods to address the research questions and inform uncertainties.

Expected outcome: Products that can be applied to restoration and long-term management of Chandeleur Islands will be identified using scenario-based approaches to decision-making. A plan for the integration of these products into the Engineering and Design and Monitoring and Adaptive Management phases of the Chandeleur Islands Restoration Project will be detailed in the research, development, and application plans developed by the project team.