Positive Ecological Interactions and the Success of Seagrass Restoration
Seagrasses provide multiple ecosystem services including nursery habitat, improved water quality, coastal protection, and carbon sequestration. However, seagrasses are in crisis as global coverage is declining at an accelerating rate. With increased focus on ecological restoration as a conservation strategy, methods that enhance restoration success need to be explored. Decades of work in coastal plant ecosystems, including seagrasses, has shown that positive species relationships and feedbacks are critical for ecosystem stability, expansion, and recovery from disturbance. We reviewed the restoration literature on seagrasses and found few studies have tested for the beneficial effects of including positive species interactions in seagrass restoration designs. Here we review the full suite of positive species interactions that have been documented in seagrass ecosystems, where they occur, and how they might be integrated into seagrass restoration. The few studies in marine plant communities that have explicitly incorporated positive species interactions and feedbacks have found an increase in plant growth with little additional resource investment. As oceans continue to change and stressors become more prevalent, harnessing positive interactions between species through innovative approaches will likely become key to successful seagrass restoration.
Valdez, SR; Zhang, YS; van der Heide, T; Vanderklift, MA; Tarquinio, F; Orth, RJ; Silliman, BR
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