Science Inventory

Eelgrass (Zostera marina L.) Restoration in Puget Sound: Development and Application of a Site Suitability Assessment Process

Citation:

Thom, R., J. Gaeckle, K. Buenau, A. Borde, J. Vavrinec, L. Aston, D. Woodruff, T. Khangaonkar, AND Jim Kaldy. Eelgrass (Zostera marina L.) Restoration in Puget Sound: Development and Application of a Site Suitability Assessment Process. RESTORATION ECOLOGY. Blackwell Publishing, Malden, MA, 26(6):1066-1074, (2018). https://doi.org/10.1111/rec.12702

Impact/Purpose:

Because of seagrass’ important ecological roles, eelgrass conservation and restoration has been a major focus of the Puget Sound Partnership. As part of this project, we developed an approach to assess suitability of 2,630 sites throughout Puget Sound to support eelgrass restoration to meet the State of Washington’s goal of 20% more eelgrass by 2020. This approach uses an integrated numerical biomass production model, empirical and spatial datasets, field studies, test plantings, and input from resource managers to evaluate suitability of the sites for successful eelgrass transplanting. The models identified an excess of 2,669ha with very high, high and moderate growth potential, which is above the State of Washington’s 4,200ha restoration goal. This project also developed recommendations for further evaluation of sites to assess local transplant suitability and produced maps, for local and regional environmental decision makers. These recommendations, maps and models provide information on restoration potential for all sites within Puget Sound

Description:

The restoration of eelgrass (Zostera marina L.) is a high priority in Puget Sound, Washington, United States. In 2011, the state set a restoration target to increase eelgrass area by 4,200 ha by 2020, a 20% increase over the 21,500 ha then present. In a region as large, dynamic, and complex as Puget Sound, locating areas to restore eelgrass effectively and efficiently is challenging. To identify potential restoration sites we used simulation modeling, a geodatabase for spatial screening, and test planting. The simulation model of eelgrass biomass used time series of water properties (depth, temperature, and salinity) output from a regional hydrodynamic model and empirical water clarity data to indicate growth potential. The geographic information system‐based analysis incorporated results from the simulation model, historical and current eelgrass area, substrate, stressors, and shoreline manager input into a geodatabase to screen sites for field reconnaissance. Finally, we planted eelgrass at test sites and monitored survival. We screened 2,630 sites and identified 6,292 ha of highly to very highly suitable conditions for eelgrass—ample area for meeting the 20% target. Test plantings indicated that fine‐scale data are needed to improve predictive capability. We summarized the results of our analysis for the majority of the approximately 3,220 km of shoreline in Puget Sound on maps to support restoration site selection and planning. Our approach provides a process for identifying and testing potential restoration sites and highlights information needs and management actions to reduce stressors and increase eelgrass area to meet restoration objectives.

URLs/Downloads:

https://doi.org/10.1111/rec.12702   Exit

Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT (JOURNAL/PEER REVIEWED JOURNAL)
Product Published Date: 11/01/2018
Record Last Revised: 02/11/2019
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 343943

Organization:

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

NATIONAL HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS RESEARCH LABORATORY

WESTERN ECOLOGY DIVISION

PACIFIC COASTAL ECOLOGY BRANCH