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Seagrass Resilience at the Chandeleur Islands

Informing project design and long-term monitoring and adaptive management of large-scale ecosystem restoration to maximize natural resource benefits through the protection and enhancement of seagrass habitat at the Chandeleur Islands, LA

In their efforts to restore the Chandeleur Islands off coastal Louisiana, natural resource agencies must use the best available science and develop a long-term monitoring and adaptive management plan that maximizes benefits for key natural resources, in particular seagrass. The project team will collect spatial and temporal data at population and landscape levels to determine disturbance impacts and build on existing numerical models to better assess resilience capacity for seagrass habitats adjacent to the islands.

Lead Investigator: Kelly M. Darnell, The University of Southern Mississippi (

Natural Resource Managers: Todd Baker, Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority; Jon Hemming, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Jonathan Kleinman, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Jon Wiebe, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

Project Team: Tim J.B. Carruthers, The Water Institute of the Gulf; P. Soupy Dalyander, The Water Institute of the Gulf; Ioannis Georgiou, The Water Institute of the Gulf; Bingqing Liu, The University of Louisiana at Lafayette; Shannan McAskill, The University of Southern Mississippi; Mike Miner, The Water Institute of the Gulf; Laura Reynolds, University of Florida; Ali Robertson, Gulf of Mexico Alliance

Collaborators: John Lane, St. Bernard Parish Government

Technical Monitors: Craig Gouthreaux ( and Dan Slone (

Federal Program Officer/Point of Contact: Frank Parker (

Award Amount: $1,734,775

Award Period: October 2023 – September 2028

Why it matters: The Chandeleur Islands are a hotspot for plant and animal diversity in the northern Gulf of Mexico. The islands support the only marine seagrass beds in Louisiana, which grow along the shallow, protected side of the islands. The Chandeleur Islands are disappearing and, if not restored, are projected to transition to a shoal by 2037 primarily due to inadequate sand supply, sea level rise, and feedback processes resulting from the passage of major storms.

What the team is doing: The team will use a co-production framework to collect spatially and temporally explicit data for seagrasses at population and landscape levels, conduct responsive sampling to determine disturbance impacts, and build on existing numerical models to better connect the physical and biological systems and assess seagrass resilience capacity.

Expected outcome: This project will provide guidance for restoration of the Chandeleur Islands and will inform a long-term monitoring and adaptive management plan. Findings and products are expected to include spatially discrete data and species distribution maps of historic, current, and potential seagrass cover under a range of conditions, as well as a list of recommended seagrass restoration success criteria.