SEASTORE - DIVERSITY ENHANCEMENT THROUGH SEAGRASS RESTORATION

© Maike Paul, LuFI

Seagrass meadows help us fight climate change, we want to support it.

Seagrass meadows promote biodiversity and provide important ecosystem services (ESS) (see figure). To counteract the current decline of seagrass meadows, this project is creating the scientific basis for restoration of seagrass in the southern Baltic Sea.

For this purpose, different restoration methods will be tested in the laboratory and in the field, including different planting methods as well as a restoration facilitator. In addition, the role of the microbiome in the restoration and spread of seagrass will be investigated. Areal spread, carbon storage, sediment stabilisation and biodiversity will be measured and compared to natural seagrass meadows.

In addition, we will estimate the ESS economic costs of a trade-off between habitat loss and investments in restoring the original ecosystem functions.  Additional activities will emphasize the positive socio-economic impact of seagrass beds to promote further investments in their restoration. The tools and models resulting from the project will support decision-makers in planning seagrass restoration measures and provide outreach materials for coastal communities to raise awareness of seagrass meadows and their ESS in coastal protection and climate change adaptation.

You can download a project brochure (in German) here (pdf).

Image provided by Hisham Ashkar
https://www.grida.no/resources/13576

 

 

© Anne Brauer, Uni Greifswald

RESTORE IN PEACE, NEW LAVISH BEDS IN THE SEA

We are busy preparing our very first field campaigns in May/June 2021. The first group will measure hydrodynamics and the bathymetry before we start the first restoration of seagrass within the project!

Then experienced divers will plant seagrass so animals like the pipefish will be happy again. But we will also study the distribution of the very small in habitants of the seagrass meadows, which live on the seagrass leaves and are only visible under the microscope. Overall, we will focus on three of the many ecosystem services that seagrass can provide.

© Maike Paul, LuFI

WORK PACKAGES

  • WP 1 - Baseline data

    To assess the success of our restoration effort and the influence of restored seagrass meadows on the respective ecosystem, we first of all need to know the initial situation at our sites, which we want to restore to be able to assess the development of our re-planted seagrass and to monitor this development over time. Also, we want to compare our newly planted sites with natural sites and already restored sites of our partners in Sweden and Denmark.

    Additionally, we develop a restoration facilitator (i.e. artificial structure), which enhances sediment stabilization and reduces hydrodynamic forces to provide favourable restoration site conditions, while being fully bio-degradable in the marine environment at the same time.

    So for that, in work package 1, we are collecting the baseline data for all our parameters that we will use to measure the restoration success and the positive effects of seagrass as a restored habitat on coastal ecosystems.

    These are physico-chemical water and sediment properties, such as:

    ·         Light availability
    ·         Nutrients
    ·         Salinity
    ·         Temperature
    ·         Chlorophyll a
    ·         Organic content
    ·         Grain size

    Biotic parameters:

    ·         Macrofaunal biodiversity and food web structure
    ·         Microbial (prokaryotic and eukaryotic) biodiversity
    ·         Functional plant traits (e.g. leave length and width)

    Site specific hydrodynamic and bathymetric conditions:

    ·         Bottom bathymetry
    ·         Current velocities and resulting shear forces

    Diagram by K. Kesy

    Responsible: Dr. Katharina Kesy, Anne Brauer, Dr. Mia Bengtsson, Insitute of Microbiology, Universität Greifswald

    Contributing: Robin Bähre and Hannah Behnsen (IKK, Leibniz Universität Hannover), Tadhg  Ó Corcora (GEOMAR), Dr. Matteo Lattuada (IGÖ, TU Braunschweig), Mareike Taphorn (LuFI, Leibniz Universität Hannover)

  • WP 2 - Plant traits

    This work package addresses the phenotypic plasticity of the plants functional traits (PFT) as response to environmental conditions such as hydrodynamic exposure, temperature, salinity, as well as the availability of light and nutrients. The aim is to find donor sites with plants suitable to the environment of targeted restoration locations.

    The PFT will be measured in the field along with the growth of newly planted seagrasses. In addition, experiments in a flume will shed light on the interactions between plants and waves to understand seagrass potential as natural coastal protecting structures.

    Finally, the results of this work package will be cross-linked with the assessments of biodiversity and ecosystem service experiments to evaluate if and how the PFT may interact with these restoration aspects. This will provide input for the decision support tool developed in work package 5.

    Responsible: Dr. Matteo Lattuada and Prof. Boris Schröder-Esselbach, Institute of Geoecology, TU Braunschweig

    Contributing: Tadhg Ó Corcora and Prof. Thorsten Reusch, GEOMAR

  • WP 3 - Restoration effects

    Within this work package, we use field measurements and lab experiments in order to investigate how to conduct effective and successful seagrass restoration and how a restoration facilitator (i.e. artificial structure) might help especially in more exposed areas. In order to be of maximum benefit, the restoration facilitator needs to stabilize the sediment and reduce hydrodynamic forces to support seagrass restoration in early stages of establishment while being fully bio-degradable.

    In order to answer this, we need:

    ·         a deeper understanding of how the morphological parameters of seagrass relate to sedimentation and erosion patterns within and around seagrass beds
    ·         a mapped influence of seagrass meadows and the facilitator beyond their perimeter
    ·         an assessment of the impact of the restoration facilitator on seagrass restoration, coastal protection ecosystem services and microbial biodiversity
    ·         a quantification of the stability and degradability of the restoration facilitator in situ.

     

    Responsible: Mareike Taphorn and Dr. Maike Paul, Ludwig Franzius Institute, Leibniz Universität Hannover

    Contributing: Dr. Katharina Kesy (Insitute of Microbiology, Universität Greifswald), Robin Bähre and Hannah Behnsen (IKK, Leibniz Universität Hannover), Tadhg  Ó Corcora (GEOMAR)

  • WP 4 - Ecosystem services

    This work package will study critical ecosystem functions such as biodiversity enhancement (invertebrates and fish), food chain processes, and the social benefits of seagrass meadows.

    The objectives of the package are:

    - Assessing the improvement of biodiversity in renatured meadows through the investigation of floral, faunal and microbial biodiversity in contrasting locations.
    - Analysis and comparison of selected key functional groups (seagrass, epiphytes, invertebrate grazers, small fish, predatory fish) between restored, donor and nonpopulated sites to identify food source, food web position and trophic connectivity using the stable isotopic composition. Further detection and quantification of trophic connectivity and recycling of biomass in the system will be done by network analysis.
    - Assessment of how quickly the composition or wealth of the community and the associated processes of the food web recover after successful restoration. Specific comparisons will be made (a) between resettlement methods (with/without restoration facilitator), (b) between recently settled sites and older resettlement projects, the latter being available through our international cooperation partners. This will include knowledge of reference sites for important ecosystem services such as current calming, nutrient and carbon sequestration and sediment enrichment, which will recover after successful seagrass reintroduction.
    - provide input data to carry out an economic assessment of the main ecosystem services; the assessment of carbon sequestration in seagrass beds will focus on the use of a social cost approach to carbon.

     

    Responsible: Tadhg Ó Corcora and Prof. Thorsten Reusch, GEOMAR

    Contributing: Dr. Matteo Lattuada (IGÖ, TU Braunschweig), Dr. Katharina Kesy (Insitute of Microbiology, Universität Greifswald,  Mareike Taphorn (LuFI, Leibniz Universität Hannover), Lennard Kröger (IfW)

  • WP 5 - Decision support and stakeholder interaction

    This work package analyses the costs and benefits of seagrass restoration as well as its social perception and acceptance. Even though it can be proven that the restoration of seagrass provides great added value for society through its ESS, a lack of acceptance in society could be an obstacle to the implementation of seagrass restoration projects. Therefore, acceptance and perception are determined with the help of Germany-wide, representative online surveys.

    In addition, an economic evaluation is carried out in the form of a cost-effectiveness analysis, which shows which restoration methods are most favourable for achieving the restoration goals. Furthermore, an economic evaluation of the most important ESS will be carried out, with a focus on carbon storage.

    All findings, both from this and the other work packages, will ultimately flow into a decision support tool that will help decision-makers manage seagrass areas in the future.

    Responsible: Lennard Kröger and Dr. Wilfried Rickels, Institute for the World Economy

    Contributing: all other partners

PROJECT PARTNER

Such a project can only be achieved in a team. Thus the following partners work closely together.

ASSOCIATED PARTNERS

Addititonally, the project receives support from associated partners who contribute their expertise:

Christoffer Boström, Åbo Akademi University, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Environmental and Marine Biology, Finland
Mogens Flindt, University of Southern Denmark, Department of Biology, Denmark
Per-Olav Moksnes, University of Gothenburg, Department of Marine Sciences, Sweden
Rolf Karez, Landesamt für Landwirtschaft, Umwelt und ländliche Räume Schleswig-Holstein (LLUR), Department Küstengewässer, Germany
Mario von Weber, Landesamt für Umwelt, Naturschutz und Geologie Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (LUNG), Dezernat 330 Gewässergüte von Fließ- und Küstengewässern, Germany

FUNDING

The project is part of the KüNO III network funded by the "Research for Sustainable Development" (FONA³) programme of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

The project runs from November 2020 to October 2023.