DV-11-07 Biodegradable transplant grids for efficient eelgrass restoration

George Kidder III
Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory
Box 35, Old Bar Harbor Road
Salisbury Cove, ME 04672
207.288.9880 x421

Eelgrass is a valued component of shallow-water estuaries that provides habitat for many species, including juvenile mussels and fish, and helps maintain clean water. Eelgrass beds are disappearing in many areas for various and unknown reasons. In upper Frenchman Bay, eelgrass declined from 85% to less than one percent since 1996.

A community-based restoration project began in 2007. Replanting eelgrass beds is typically done with plastic-coated wire grids that, when removed, can disrupt transplanted eelgrass. Sea Grant program development funds supported manufacture and testing of a new biodegradable grid that did not require removal after transplant. Volunteers tested the new grids in Spring 2011, and in 2013 nearly 100 students, educators, and community volunteers helped construct and deploy grids to upper Frenchman Bay.

An evaluation of transplant methods demonstrated greater effectiveness (and greater engagement through volunteers) of the biodegradable grids, which are now the “method of choice” for future transplanting efforts. The biodegradable grids are being used statewide by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, the U.S. Geological Survey, and other partners.

Sea Grant funds: $1,391


Fox, E., S. White, G. Sato, M. Miller, G. Kidder, J. Hauck, and J.E. Disney. 2013. Effects of slow release nutrients on eelgrass (Zostera marina L.) morphometrics and water quality. Bulletin of the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory 52:34-36.

Kidder, G.W., and J.E. Disney. 2013. A comparison of transplant methods for eelgrass (Zostera marina L.) restoration in Frenchman Bay. Bulletin of the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory 52:37-39.