Eelgrass Collaborators Meet to Share Progress and Discuss Future

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Eelgrass collaborators from Maine and New Hampshire gather at MDI Biological Laboratory.

On January 22, eelgrass scientists and others interested in eelgrass conservation in Maine and New Hampshire came together to share work in progress and discuss future directions for eelgrass research and restoration in Maine. Six presenters covered topics ranging from eelgrass loss in Frenchman Bay, Casco Bay, Lamprey Bay, and Great Bay, to what archaeological flounder bones can tell us about past eelgrass habitats. Attendees discussed possible next steps, including eelgrass restoration in Casco Bay with assistance from the MDI Biological Laboratory and partners. Read the full summary here.

 

Stakeholder groups identify similar ecosystem service priorities for Frenchman Bay

The Frenchman Bay Partners has been engaging community members in conversations about the benefits we all derive from our connections to Frenchman Bay. Last November, a series of workshops led to the development of an Ecosystem Services Value Decision Support Tool. The tool helps users identify and prioritize the attributes of the bay that are most beneficial to them, which builds a shared vision of resource management and a common language for discussion. Read the full FBP ESValue Technical Report, including background, results, and next steps.

Stay tuned: Another stakeholder meeting aimed at prioritizing ecosystem services will take place on the Hancock side of the bay this spring.

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Facilitators from Cardno-Entrix, College of the Atlantic, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, MDI Biological Laboratory, and the University of Maine were the moving force behind the development of the ESValue Decision Support Tool.

 

Ocean acidification panel calls for action to address threat

Ocean acidification panel calls for action to address threat
Legislative members to unveil four proposals to protect marine ecosystem, coastal economy

AUGUSTA – The Commission to Study the Effects of Coastal and Ocean Acidification on Commercially Harvested and Grown Species on Thursday presented its report to the public and unveiled four proposals for the current legislative session that are informed by the panel’s work.

“Maine is taking the lead on ocean acidification on the Eastern seaboard. We understand just how dangerous it is to our marine environment, jobs and way of life,” said Rep. Mick Devin, D-Newcastle, co-chair of the panel and sponsor of the legislation that created it. “It isn’t just valuable shellfisheries that are at risk, but other parts of our economy like tourism. No one visits the Maine coast looking for a chicken sandwich. Let’s make sure visitors can have a lobster roll, a bowl of clam chowder, a bucket of steamers or a platter of Damariscotta River oysters on the half shell when they come to Maine.”

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Jenn Booher’s Coast Walk to document objects and species along the coast of MDI

jellyfishFrenchman Bay Partners member and Bar Harbor artist Jenn Booher will be walking the length of Mount Desert Island’s shoreline over the next two years, photographing the objects she finds on her way as part of an art and citizen science project called Coast Walk.

Jenn will be sharing the resulting photos on her blog and mapping data on the Coast Walk project on Anecdata!

The Coast Walk project will begin on January 1st, 2015. If you would like to join Jenn or find out how you can help, just email quercus@jenniferbooher.com.

Updates

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Sunrise over Frenchman Bay. Photo credit: Bridie McGreavy

Frenchman Bay Partners has been busy! Read all about:

  • The impact conservation efforts, led by the Frenchman Bay Partners and the Maine DMR, have had on alewife populations in the area.
  • The research on green crabs and eelgrass loss, as well as restoration events, carried out this summer by scientists and interns at the Community Environmental Health Lab.
  • The progress of the 610 Project, a collaboration between the Frenchman Bay Partners and the Frenchman Bay Regional Shellfish Committee.
  • Discover what’s new on Anecdata, an online citizen science portal created by staff at the Community Environmental Health Lab.
  • Check out our e-newsletter, or subscribe today to receive quarterly updates!

Local Alewife Numbers Show Impact of Conservation Efforts

Two local streams, Flanders Stream in Sullivan and the Somes Brook drainage that includes Long Pond and Somes Pond on MDI, have been the focus of local restoration efforts over the past several years. Newly released Maine DMR reports from volunteer counts for both rivers in 2014 showed migrating alewives similar to 2013, which was a banner year on MDI and a strong initial year after a restoration on Flanders Stream. For this report I wanted to focus on the Flanders Stream work and subsequent report written by Claire Enterline of the Maine Department of Marine Resources. We will update work on the Somesville fish run in a future report, although you can see the document written by Ms. Enterline here.

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Conservation Action Planning Mudflat Progress

The Frenchman Bay Partners (hereafter Partners) are a diverse group of people who help organizations in the watershed work together for ecosystem health and marine-based livelihoods. The Frenchman Bay Regional Shellfish Committee (hereafter Shellfish Committee) formed in 2009 in response to widespread red-tide closures to manage the intertidal mudflat resources in the 7 towns in the ordinance. The respective missions of two organizations address the long-term stewardship of the region’s resources.  The two groups have been working together since 2011.

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New Eelgrass Restoration Methods Trialed

The Community Environmental Health Laboratory (CEHL) tried four new methods of restoring eelgrass this past summer. The season began with the tried and true method of tying eelgrass plants onto wooden, biodegradable grids strung with twine. The up front time required to construct the grids with string and make ties from floral tape prompted the development of further prototypes.  We next tried weaving plants through pieces of burlap stretched across the same biodegradable grids. We quickly realized the time required to weave eelgrass into the burlap on shore was too much.  At the scale CEHL hoped to restore, both the string and the burlap grid methods necessitated too much time and effort.

Students in the Young Environmental Leaders Program created a burlap “restoration runner” weighted with sandbags. Eelgrass was woven into the seven foot long runners. Another method involved tying eelgrass onto metal washers, which were dropped from the boat into the water at the restoration site. In an effort to move away from the potential environmental impact of metal washers and decrease the cost of restoration, CEHL tried using rocks instead of washers.

To date, we have used frames with eelgrass tied to strings, frames with eelgrass woven into burlap, burlap without frames with eelgrass woven in, eelgrass tied to washers, and eelgrass tied to rocks.  We are working on a seeding method.  Seeding plants have been collected and are maturing in a flow-through seawater tank. Eelgrass restoration methods will continue to evolve as different challenges arise.

 

Population Genetics of the Invasive European Green Crab, Carcinus maneas and its Role in Eelgrass Loss in the Gulf of Maine

Mary Badger, Smith College

 

CrabGraph.jpgAbstract: In 2013, there was a devastating loss of eelgrass (Zoestra marina) in upper Frenchman Bay, Mount Desert Island, Maine. This study examined the relationship between the most recent invasion of novel haplotypes of the European Green Crab (Carnicus maneas) and the decline of eelgrass in upper Frenchman Bay. While C. maneas is an invasive species that has been present in the Gulf of Maine for over 100 years, a second invasion of C. maneas in Nova Scotia occurred during the 1980s and 1990s, bringing novel haplotypes of the species that have been cited to be more cold tolerant and voracious as compared to other haplotypes.  The presence of these new haplotypes has been hypothesized to be a contributing factor to habitat destruction along the Maine coast. In 2013, northern haplotypes of green crab were documented in upper Frenchman Bay where the eelgrass had disappeared. In order to assess this relationship, the cytochrome oxidase I (COI) haplotype of the crabs at sites around Mount Desert Island was determined as well as the abundance of the eelgrass at corresponding study sites. The study did not find a significant correlation between the presence of northern green crab haplotypes and eelgrass abundance at the study sites. This indicates that the status of eelgrass health is not dependent on the genetic composition of green crabs that are present.  It is more likely that factors such as green crab abundance or water quality are contributing to the declining health of eelgrass beds along the Maine coast.

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