Seagrass Restoration & Resiliency

Full Title: Building resilience into seagrass bed restoration: The role of genetic variation

This project will work to reduce the uncertainties of seagrass restoration by considering the impacts of genetic variation in remaining seagrass beds.

An image of a mixed species seagrass bed in Florida
Photo by Whitney Scheffel
A seagrass bed near the Pensacola and Perdido Bay Estuary Program, composed of Halodule wrightii.
Photo by Anastasia Konefal

Lead Investigator: T. Erin Cox, University of New Orleans, tecox@uno.edu

Natural Resource Managers: Matt Posner and Whitney Scheffel, Pensacola & Perdido Bays Estuary Program

Project Team: Nicola Anthony (University of New Orleans), Anastasia Konefal (University of New Orleans), and Just Cebrian (Mississippi State University)

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

Award Amount: $121,081

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

Why it matters: Seagrass beds provide important ecosystem services — they reduce erosion during storm surges, they provide habitat for commercially important fish species, and they sequester carbon. Seagrasses are threatened by natural and human factors, including changes in water quality that are driven by climate change. Managers are planning restoration projects amid growing environmental uncertainties, and one way to increase resiliency is to better understand the genetic diversity of existing beds. The project team will work to reduce the uncertainties of seagrass restoration by considering the impacts of genetic variation in remaining seagrass beds. 

What the team is doing: The project team will conduct a literature review, compile data on seagrass health, and host a Seagrass Restoration Workshop. 

Expected outcome: The goals of this project are to better understand the factors that influence seagrass restoration, including site selection, the density and acreage of planted grasses, stressors, genotypic variation and productivity, and stakeholder support. The project will also include experimental testing of the diversity resiliency hypothesis. Findings will be communicated in a series of reports, publications, and annotations added to the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan as well as an online database.