The Right Plants for the Job

Full Title: The right plants for the job: Sourcing, germination, and production strategies for Spartina alterniflora (smooth cordgrass) for living shorelines
This project aims to enhance coastal restoration and protection by bolstering the capacity for designing and planting living shorelines. By addressing limitations in plant material availability and sourcing restrictions, the project will investigate seed-based production methods, develop guidance, and train students, ultimately benefiting coastal ecosystems and communities throughout Florida and the Atlantic US coastline.
Lead Investigator: Dr. Carrie Adams, Associate Professor UF
Project Team: Laura Reynolds Assistant Professor UF, Savanna Barry Regional Specialized Agent II UF/IFAS extension, Christine Rohal Biological Scientist UF
Collaborator: Earth Balance Native Plant Nursery Operations
Award Amount: 198,087
Year Funded: 2024
Award Period: 2024-2026
Project Abstract:

This project addresses the compelling need to promote coastal restoration and protection by increasing capacity for designing and planting living shorelines (LSLs) and aligns with 2 Florida Sea Grant (FSG) Nation Focus Areas (NFAs) and associated goals. Research supports Healthy Coastal Ecosystems (HCE) by restoring and enhancing habitats (guidance for approximately 100 managers using ecosystem-based approaches, increasing potential to enhance/restore coastal shoreline), and Resilient Communities and Economies (RCE) by developing solutions that foster resilience to hazards (sustainable practices that prepare for/respond to/minimize coastal hazardous events). Despite increased interest in LSLs to stabilize coasts and provide habitat, our needs assessment of FSG agents and nurseries confirms implementation is limited by available plant material, and restrictions on sources of that plant material, a problem in Florida but also throughout the Atlantic US coastline. This project will 1) characterize plant material challenges, 2) assess source trait differences statewide, 3) investigate seed-based production, 4) develop seed-based guidance, 5) quantify increased plant supply benefits, and 6) train underserved students. We will work with nurseries and practitioners (end-users) and communities they impact (residents prone to coastal hazards), priorities in FSG’s FY 2024-2027 Strategic Plan. FSG Agents will help implement knowledge development (e.g., stakeholder collaboration, actionable science), and knowledge transfer (e.g., trainings, outreach) primarily in Florida, though results will apply to the Atlantic coast throughout which Spartina-based LSLS are implemented. We will advance DEIJA by engaging a largely female team, creating paid undergraduate opportunities, and implementing outreach and collaboration in underserved coastal populations.

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