An Experimental Evaluation of Different Methods of Restoring Phyllospadix torreyi (Surfgrass)

Authors

  • J. Scott Bull,

    1. Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA, 93106, U.S.A.
    2. Present address: Shoreline Preservation Fund, University Center 2521, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, U.S.A.
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  • Daniel C. Reed,

    1. Marine Science Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, U.S.A.
    2. Address correspondence to D. C. Reed, email reed@lifesci.ucsb.edu
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  • Sally J. Holbrook

    1. Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA, 93106, U.S.A.
    2. Marine Science Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, U.S.A.
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Abstract

The surfgrass Phyllospadix torreyi is an abundant seagrass found on rocky exposed shores of the Pacific coast of North America. In southern California surfgrass populations are adversely affected by a range of natural events and anthropogenic activities. Few attempts have been made to develop restoration methods for surfgrass, and none have investigated the efficacy of using different life stages. We evaluated several techniques for restoration in intertidal and subtidal habitats using: (1) laboratory-reared seedlings transplanted to the field (2) sprigs (short lengths of rhizome containing a few shoots) transplanted from undisturbed populations, and (3) plugs (a cohesive clump of shoots and rhizomes) transplanted from undisturbed populations. We calculated the net change in the aerial coverage of surfgrass after 6 months, taking into account the recovery or additional losses from the donor population, and amount of effort involved in transplanting. Transplanted seedlings survived poorly and had minimal rhizome growth at both the intertidal and the subtidal sites, yet the individuals that did survive showed a 275% increase in leaf number. Survivorship of transplanted plugs was high in both habitats; however, physical disturbances to the donor populations exacerbated damage sustained at the time of collecting, yielding a substantial net loss in surfgrass. Sprigs transplanted to the subtidal had higher survivorship (71 versus 48%) and a greater increase in the aerial coverage of rhizome (86 versus 42%) than those transplanted to the intertidal. Of the three techniques, transplanted sprigs had the greatest overall increase in aerial coverage per unit effort, suggesting that this method may be the most effective approach for restoring P. torreyi.

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