Capstone Title

The State of Florida’s Seagrasses: An Assessment of Planting Techniques and Management Strategies

Defense Date

6-2005

Document Type

Capstone

Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology

Second Degree Name

M.S. Coastal Zone Management

First Advisor

Richard E. Dodge

Second Advisor

Michael B. Robblee

Abstract

Seagrass ecosystems are protected under the federal government’s “no-net-loss” policy for wetlands and form one of the most productive plant communities on the planet, performing important and often underestimated ecological functions. As one of the most productive and ecologically important ecosystems in the world,Florida’s seagrass meadows are vital to the health of all ofFlorida’s coastal environments.

Human population expansion is now a significant cause of seagrass habitat loss, and increasing anthropogenic inputs to the coastal oceans are primarily responsible for the world-wide decline in seagrass. The question is no longer whether seagrasses should be protected, but how? Restoration has been a popular and occasionally successful means of managing seagrass losses inFloridasince the 1970s. However, failures are common, and with a lack of published results, mistakes are often repeated. Recently, a new trend in management strategy has emerged. Restoration is now only one component of seagrass management along with conservation. Conservation bolsters seagrass health through limitations in nutrient input and habitat usage. Environmental agencies are citing the need for universally accepted management goals and strategies, as well as a centralized database of information pertaining to seagrass management throughout the state. This trend could cause a paradigm shift within seagrass management, and serve to expedite plans to ameliorate future seagrass disturbance.

This capstone paper serves to examine the various strategies for managingFlorida’s seagrass beds, with an emphasis on planting techniques used for restoration and mitigation projects, and offers suggestions on how these strategies might be better employed or focused.

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