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Reef gets seaweed transplant

Marine ecologists in Sydney manage to restore the missing crayweed onto two barren reef sites where it once grew abundantly.
Credit:  
Several species of large canopy forming macroalgae and the habitats they provide are declining in many temperate ecosystems
PLoS ONE  |  Towards Restoration of Missing Underwater Forests    |   01-20-2014
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Macroalgae are the dominant habitat-forming organisms on temperate coastlines, providing habitat and food to entire communities.

In recent decades, there has been a decline in macroalgal cover along some urbanised shorelines, leading to a shift from diverse algal forests to more simple turf algae or barren habitats.

Along the urban shores of Sydney, its disappearance is coincident with heavy sewage outfall discharges along the metropolitan coast during 1970s and 1980s. Despite significant improvements in water-quality since that time, Phyllospora has not re-established.

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Transplanted seaweed is attached to a reef by a team member. (Image courtesy of University of New South Wales)

Given its importance to local ecosystems, restoring this alga in an ecologically sensible way is likely to increase primary productivity and the provision of resources needed to enhance biodiversity in Sydney.

Now, with some well-executed intervention, it looks as though this habitat-forming crayweed could make a successful comeback in Sydney's coastal waters.

Early reports on the initial efforts at the restoration of Phyllospora in Sydney are encouraging and suggest that restoration via transplantation, using the methods described by the researchers, is possible and also relatively cost-effective.

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