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Seagrass restoration in Gulf of Mannar, Tamil Nadu, Southeast India: a viable management tool

Abstract

Seagrass beds are important marine ecosystems that provide significant ecological services. The global decline of seagrass beds is becoming severe due to the increasing pressure of human-induced factors and changing climatic conditions. Restoration of seagrasses is an evolving science that started in 1939. In this study, we report a remarkably successful restoration activity carried out in the Gulf of Mannar (GoM), Southeast India. This is the first wide-scale effort in Indian waters. After the initial experimentation, manual transplantation of seagrass sprigs was carried out near Vaan and Koswari islands in GoM. Transplantation was performed with PVC quadrats and jute twines in areas of 800 m2 in both the islands during February to May 2014. An increase from 16.4 ± 0.3 to 32.3 ± 0.6% in Vaan and from 15.1 ± 0.2 to 35.1 ± 0.9% in Koswari was observed in seagrass percentage cover during the period from June 2014 to May 2016. Area cover, shoot density, macrofaunal density and fish density increased at the restoration sites after the transplantation. Bottom trawling was found to be the most serious threat to the seagrass beds in these islands. This method of transplantation can be replicated in other areas of degraded seagrass in India to carry out wide-scale restoration of seagrasses.

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Acknowledgements

The authors are thankful to Dr. Jonathan Paul Aden Gardner, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, for reviewing the paper. Thanks are also due to Tamil Nadu Forest and Environment Department for the research permissions and collaborations.

Funding

The study was funded by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India; the GIZ India; and the IUCN.

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Correspondence to J. K. Patterson Edward.

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Edward, J.K.P., Raj, K.D., Mathews, G. et al. Seagrass restoration in Gulf of Mannar, Tamil Nadu, Southeast India: a viable management tool. Environ Monit Assess 191, 430 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10661-019-7546-5

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10661-019-7546-5

Keywords

  • Seagrasses
  • Restoration
  • Gulf of Mannar
  • Transplantation
  • Sprigs