Eel Grass Beds: Habitats at Risk

Lead Pi: Chrys Chryssostomidis · 2/2014 - 1/2015

Project Personnel: Juliet Simpson

Project number: 2014-A/A-42-PD
Strategic Focus Area: Healthy Coastal Ecosystems

Coastal ecosystems can store a great deal of carbon in their sediments. Seagrass beds, salt marshes, and mangrove swamps are hotspots of storage for this ìblue carbonî. Globally, they account for only 0.5% of the total ocean area, but may store up to 70% of its carbon. Eelgrass beds (Zostera marina) are the least well characterized of the vegetated coastal habitats. In collaboration with EPA and researchers at Northeastern University, we are investigating storage of blue carbon in eelgrass beds in Massachusetts Bay. In addition, we will be testing equipment and developing methods to use visual imaging and sonar for surveying eelgrass beds. We will use these methods to determine the health of beds (e.g., density and biomass, presence of epiphytes and epifauna) and assess their usefulness in surveying damage to beds from anchor chains and effectiveness of conservation (auger-type) anchors.