Seagrass meadows play a key role in the provisioning of ecosystem goods and services. These systems are extremely vulnerable to multiple anthropogenic impacts. Therefore, there is an urgent need to develop new techniques to efficiently restore degraded seagrass meadows. Here we tested the efficacy and efficiency of a new technique of seagrass transplant (Cymodocea nodosa) using biodegradable containers. We investigated the effects of this transplant technique in the Adriatic Sea comparing the transplanted seagrass meadows with adjacent donor seagrass meadows and bare sediments used as control. We assessed the recovery rates and the ecological implications of this transplant on key ecosystems functions, including the biomass and detritus provision to local biological communities, and the effects on the biodiversity of the associated benthic fauna. Our results show that this restoration technique was successful, enabling the seagrass survival (approximately 30%) even in high-energy conditions occurring in winter. The sediments hosting the transplanted seagrasses showed an increase of trophic availability and of rates of organic matter cycling. Despite this, 1 year after the transplant, the abundance and biodiversity of meiofaunal assemblages in the restored seagrasses were still lower than in donor seagrass meadows. These results indicate that the restoration process of seagrass meadows can take a long time, and that a multilevel approach (including the analysis of biodiversity and of the sedimentary processes and biogeochemical cycles) is needed to assess the success of restoration actions in these habitats.
Restoration of Cymodocea nodosa seagrass meadows: efficiency and ecological implications / DA ROS, Zaira; Corinaldesi, Cinzia; Dell'Anno, Antonio; Gambi, Cristina; Torsani, Fabrizio; Danovaro, Roberto. - In: RESTORATION ECOLOGY. - ISSN 1061-2971. - ELETTRONICO. - 29:2(2021). [10.1111/rec.13313]