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Shifting the balance between native and invasive seagrass through novel restoration methods, in Lac Bay, Bonaire

Seagrass is of great importance worldwide for coastal protection, carbon sequestration and as a nursery and feeding habitat for various species. However, due to climate change, eutrophication, turtle grazing and anthropogenic activities seagrass meadows are declining globally. Seagrass restoration might be a tool to restore the seagrass ecosystem and bring back the linked ecosystem services. In the case the area is ought to be suitable for restoration, different restoration methods can be used. This study will focus on the importance of sediment stabilisation for seagrass restoration of the native seagrass Thalassia testudinum and the invasive Halophila stipulacea, using biodegradable sheets that mimic the sediment stabilizing function of seagrass meadows. This study is executed in Lac Bay, Bonaire. It is expected that by using these stabilizing sheets, the balance between native and invasive seagrass can be shifted towards native seagrass occurrence. During this research we found that using sediment stabilizing root mats can improve restoration of the native seagrass T. testudinum, especially in environments with high wave action and currents. Sediment stability is provided and fragments are held in place by the use of these biodegradable sheets, which prevents fragments from washing away. However, for the long-term these biodegradable sheets are possibly negatively affecting seagrass growth, likely due to interference with rhizome growth. This should, however, be researched into further detail. The invasive seagrass species H. stipulacea does not experience advantages in terms of growth when using these root mats. Fragments of H. stipulacea are fragile and possibly suffer from different kinds of stress when implementing in between the sheets. It could be stated that by using the sediment stabilizing sheets, the balance between native and invasive species can be shifted towards native seagrass in this research. This will benefit the seagrass ecosystem and its ecosystem services. In general it can be stated that the effect of using these biodegradable sheets differs depending on the seagrass species and various environmental factors such as hydrodynamics. There is also an indication of a difference in efficiency of the use of these sheets between the short-term and long-term growth. Furthermore bioturbation is likely to influence seagrass expansion and the functionality of these biodegradable sheets, therefore further research is advised.

Data type
Research report
Research and monitoring
Report number
MSc thesis by Anniek Vos
Geographic location