Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. Earth Science News .

Seed-filled buoys may help restore diverse sea meadows in San Francisco Bay
by Staff Writers
San Francisco CA (SPX) Feb 27, 2014

This shows Mesocosms in the greenhouse at SF State's Robert Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies. Mesocosm plants are growing inside tanks. Image courtesy Brian Ort.

A pearl net filled with seedpods, tethered by a rope anchored in the coastal mud but swaying with the tide, could be an especially effective way to restore disappearing marine meadows of eelgrass, according to a new study.

The resulting crop of eelgrass grown by SF State researchers is as genetically diverse as the natural eelgrass beds from which the seeds were harvested, said Sarah Cohen, an associate professor of biology at the Romberg Tiburon Center. As eelgrass meadows are threatened by a number of human activities, restoration plans that maintain diversity are more likely to succeed, she noted.

The emphasis on genetic diversity is a relatively new concern in ecosystem restoration projects, where there has been an understandable urgency to move plants and animals back into an area as quickly as possible. "It's taken a little longer for people to say, 'we need to know who we're moving,'" Cohen said, "and to explore how successful different genotypes are in different settings, so we can more strategically design the movement of individuals for restoration."

Eelgrass restoration projects are challenging because it's not easy to plant seedlings under the water, and seeds scattered over a large area could be washed away from the restoration site. Instead, RTC researchers tested the Buoy Deployed Seeding (BuDS) restoration technique.

They first harvested eelgrass seedpods from several eelgrass beds in San Francisco Bay, then suspended the pods within floating nets over experimental tanks (called mesocosms) supplied with Bay water and with or without sediment from the original eelgrass areas. As the seeds inside each pod ripened, a few at a time, they dropped out of the nets and began to grow within the tanks.

The researchers then examined "genetic fingerprints" called microsatellites from the plants to measure the genetic diversity in each new crop. Genetic diversity can be measured in a number of ways, by looking at the number of different variants in a gene in a population, for instance, or by examining how these variants are mixed in an individual.

Based on these measurements and others, the new crops were nearly as genetically diverse as their parent grass beds, Cohen and colleagues found. "These offspring impressively maintained the genetic diversity and distinctiveness of their source beds in their new mesocosm environments at the RTC-SFSU lab," said Cohen.

"I think it's impressive how well it worked for a relatively small scale design," she added, "and that's one of the things we wanted to point out in the paper, since a lot of eelgrass restoration projects are so small, up to a few acres."

Sea grass meadows are a key marine environment under siege. In their healthy state, they stabilize coastal sediment and provide a huge nursery for a variety of algae, fish, shellfish and birds. But a variety of human influences, from bridge building to runoff pollution to smothering loads of sediment, have threatened these grass beds globally.

They're often overlooked and misunderstood, Cohen said. For instance, many of the eelgrass beds in the San Francisco Bay are submerged. "If you were out kayaking at low tide, you might see these grasses in places like Richardson Bay, which is full of a big meadow," she said.

During low tides, beachcombers could walk to eelgrass beds at places like Crown Beach in Alameda or Keller Beach in Richmond. But for the most part, "people might see the green blades washed up on the beach, and not realize that these are flowering plants instead of a piece of algae."

In classes at the RTC, students are learning how to combine genetics and ecology for projects that build better strategies to preserve the surprisingly distinct eelgrass meadows of San Francisco Bay. Cohen said that differences in water salinity, wind, sunlight, a sandy or silty bottom, and the kinds of organisms that live with the eelgrass all might play a role in creating such genetically different meadows.

"Conservation of Eelgrass (Zostera marina) Genetic Diversity in a Mesocosm-Based Restoration Experiment," by Cohen, Brian Ort, Katharyn Boyer, Laura Reynolds, Sheh May Tam and Sandy Wyllie Echeverria was published in the Feb. 21, 2014 issue of the journal PLOS ONE.


Related Links
San Francisco State University
Water News - Science, Technology and Politics

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

In Chile, rival barnacles keep competition cool
Providence RI (SPX) Feb 26, 2014
Here are two facts that make the lowly barnacle important: They are popular models for ecology research, and they are very sensitive to temperature. Given that, the authors of a new study about a bellwether community of two barnacle species in Chile figured they might see clear effects on competition between these two species if they experimentally changed temperature. In the context of cl ... read more

Corpses still being found in Philippine typhoon zone

UN report sees $1.45 tn global warming cost: media

Tunisian navy 'rescues 98 sub-Saharan migrants'

Nepal government to set up contact office at Mt. Qomolangma base camp

ADS builds 'space furnace' to test materials of the future on the ISS

Novel optical fibers transmit high-quality images

Study finds 2 biodegradable mulches to be suitable polyethylene alternatives

EIAST showcases DubaiSat-2 results, plans for KhalifaSat at space conference in Singapore

Legal harvest of marine turtles tops 42,000 each year

Seed-filled buoys may help restore diverse sea meadows in San Francisco Bay

Egypt plans dam-busting diplomatic offensive against Ethiopia

Uncovering the secret world of the Plastisphere

10,000 years on the Bering land bridge

Native Americans lived in Bering Strait for millennia: study

Dramatic extent of Great Lakes freeze captured by NASA satellite

Dartmouth-led research shows temperature, not snowfall, driving tropical glacier size

China bans Polish pork amid African swine fever scare

Managed honeybees linked to new diseases in wild bees

Better livestock diets to combat climate change and improve food security

Australian canola case shows GM crops are still being demonised

Flood cost in EU may double by 2050: study

What has happened to the tsunami debris from Japan?

Volcanoes helped offset man-made warming

Mount Hood study suggests volcano eruptibility is rare

Little hope for C.Africa Muslims ahead of French president visit

Kenya boosts airport defence, warning of Islamist threat

Somalia: Resurgent al-Shabaab targets president 'dead or alive'

Five bodies exhumed in Mali thought to be murdered soldiers

Baylor Sheds New Light on the Habitat of Early Apes

Oldest fortified settlement in North America discovered in Georgia

What makes memories last?

Thinking it through: Scientists seek to unlock mysteries of the brain

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.