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Habitat value of natural versus recently transplanted eelgrass zostera marina for the bay scallop argopecten irradians



Habitat value of natural versus recently transplanted eelgrass zostera marina for the bay scallop argopecten irradians



Fishery Bulletin (Washington D C) 87(1): 189-196



Bay scallops, Argopecten irradians, were used in a mark and recapture experiment to determine the habitat value of recently transplanted eelgrass, Zostera marina, meadows for fishery restoration and enhancement through stocking. The study site, adjacent to an island formed from dredge material, consisted of natural and transplanted eelgrass and of unplanted areas. Seventy-five marked bay scallops were placed in plots at a density of 2.2 scallops per m2 on 20 February 1986. A month later, only 18 marked scallops were recovered; of these, 15 were found in the natural eelgrass beds. On the study site, 94% of 207 unmarked naturally occurring bay scallops were found in the natural eelgrass beds. Recovery of marked adult bay scallops was not affected by the distance from the dredge island; rather densities of natural scallop populations increased with distance from the island. A second, modified survey (30 March to 7 April 1986) was conducted specifically to examine the recovery of marked bay scallops; this survey again showed a high rate of loss both in the transplanted and unplanted areas. The two surveys showed that recently transplanted eelgrass meadows do not provide the same habitat functions as natural meadows for bay scallops. Stocking of adult scallops in early stage eelgrass transplants to enhance or restore that fishery does not appear to be feasible. A protracted period of time may pass before habitat function is returned for the bay scallops in transplanted eelgrass meadows. Results from these surveys also illustrate the need for careful consideration in the placement of dredge material in the coastal environment.

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