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Effect of Planting Unit Size and Sediment Stabilization on Seagrass Transplants in Western Australia


Address correspondence to M. van Keulen, e-mail


Abstract The effect of increasing planting unit size and stabilizing sediment was examined for two seagrass planting methods at Carnac Island, Western Australia in 1993. The staple method (sprigs) was used to transplant Amphibolis griffithii (J. M. Black) den Hartog and the plug method was used to transplant A. griffithii and Posidonia sinuosa Cambridge and Kuo. Transplant size was varied by increasing the number of rhizomes incorporated into a staple and increasing the diameter of plugs. Planting units were transplanted into bare sand, back into the original donor seagrass bed, or into a meadow of Heterozostera tasmanica, which is an important colonizing species. Sprigs of A. griffithii were extracted from a monospecific meadow; tied into bundles of 1, 2, 5, and 10 rhizomes; and planted into unvegetated areas. Half the units were surrounded by plastic mesh and the remainder were unmeshed. All treatments were lost within 99 days after transplanting, and although larger bundles survived better than smaller ones, no significant differences could be attributed to the effects of mesh or sprig size. Plugs of P. sinuosa and A. griffithii were extracted from monospecific meadows using polyvinyl chloride pipe of three diameters, 5, 10, and 15 cm, and planted into unvegetated areas nearby. Half the units were surrounded by plastic mesh and the remainder were unmeshed. Posidonia sinuosa plugs were also placed within a meadow of H. tasmanica (Martens ex Aschers.) den Hartog. Only 60% of A. griffithii plug sizes survived 350 days after transplanting back into the donor bed; however, survival of transplants at unvegetated areas varied considerably, and analysis of variance indicated a significant two-way interaction between treatment and plug size. Transplants survived better when meshed (90% survived) and survival improved with increasing plug size. Posidonia sinuosa transplants survived poorly (no plugs survived beyond 220 days in bare or meshed treatments) regardless of size. Survival of 10- and 15-cm plugs was markedly better than the 5-cm plugs in vegetated areas, including the H. tasmanica meadow. The use of large seagrass plugs may be appropriate for transplantation in high-energy wave environments.