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Adaptive intertidal seed-based seagrass restoration in the Dutch Wadden Sea
Govers, L.L.; Heusinkveld, J.H.T.; Gräfnings, M.L.E.; Smeele, Q.; van der Heide, T. (2022). Adaptive intertidal seed-based seagrass restoration in the Dutch Wadden Sea. PLoS One 17(2): e0262845.

Bijhorende data:
In: PLoS One. Public Library of Science: San Francisco. ISSN 1932-6203; e-ISSN 1932-6203, meer
Peer reviewed article  

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Auteurs  Top 
  • Govers, L.L., meer
  • Heusinkveld, J.H.T.
  • Gräfnings, M.L.E.
  • Smeele, Q.
  • van der Heide, T., meer


    Seagrasses form the foundation of many coastal ecosystems but are rapidly declining on a global scale. The Dutch Wadden Sea once supported extensive subtidal seagrass meadows that have all disappeared. Here, we report on the setbacks and successes of intertidal seed-based restoration experiments in the Dutch Wadden Sea between 2014–2017. Our main goals were to 1) optimize plant densities, and 2) reduce seed losses. To achieve our goals, we conducted research-based, adaptive seagrass (Zostera marina) restoration, adjusting methods yearly based on previous results. We applied various seeding methods in three subsequent years–from Buoy Deployed Seeding (BuDS), and ‘BuDS-in-frame’ in fall, to a newly developed ‘Dispenser Injection Seeding’ (DIS) method. Our adaptive experimental approach revealed high seed losses between seeding and seedling establishment of the BuDS methods (>99.9%), which we mitigated by controlled harvest and storage of seeds throughout fall and winter, followed by DIS-seeding in spring. These iterative innovations resulted in83 times higher plant densities in the field (0.012 to 1.00 plants m -2) and a small reduction in seed loss (99.94 to 99.75%) between 2015–2017. Although these developments have not yet resulted in self-sustaining seagrass populations, we are one step closer towards upscaling seagrass restoration in the Dutch Wadden Sea. Our outcomes suggest that an iterative, research-based restoration approach that focuses on technological advancement of precision-seeding may result in advancing knowledge and improved seed-based seagrass restoration successes.

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