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MEPS prepress abstract   -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13888

Responses of eelgrass seed germination and seedling establishment to water depth, sediment type, and burial depth: implications for restoration

Shaochun Xu, Pengmei Wang, Feng Wang, Xiaomei Zhang, Xiaoyue Song, Yi Zhou*

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: When seagrass beds are restored by seeding, many factors affect the transition of seeds to seedlings. In this study, the effects of water depth (light availability), sediment type, and burial depth on seed germination and seedling establishment of Zostera marina L. were tested through two in situ suspended culture experiments in Ailian Bay, China. In the first experiment, water depth (1, 3, and 6 m) had no significant effect on seed germination and seedling establishment, but could affect seedling survival. In the second experiment, seed burial depth (2, 5, and 10 cm) had significant effects on seed germination and seedling establishment. Seeds buried at shallow depths exhibited higher percentages of seed germination and seedling establishment, and maximum values (21.33% ± 9.30%) were recorded in seeds buried at 2 cm in 100% sand. There was no significant effect of sediment type on seed germination and seedling establishment at 2 cm (p > 0.05); while seeds buried at 5 cm were largely affected by sediment type, with seeds cultured in 100% sand exhibiting the highest percentages of seed germination (12.33% ± 4.51%) and seedling establishment (12.33% ± 4.51%). No seedlings and germinated seeds were found at 10 cm, regardless of sediment type. If the plants can get established, such effects do not play a decisive role for plant growth, with plants performing equally in shoot density (37-90 shoots/pot) and shoot height (~20 cm) at different sediment types/burial depths after seedling establishment for one year. Our findings help clarify the complex combined effects of sediment type and burial depth on seed germination and seedling establishment