Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Seed collection season is over!

This past week we completed what will likely be one of our most productive seed collection seasons to date. Our seed work varies greatly from year to year depending on our needs for restoration and level of effort. Well, kind of like buying a lottery ticket in the hopes of winning it big, we jumped in head first this year.

As anyone in the field of eelgrass restoration knows, seeds are the way to go, IF you can get them to work for you. That is a big “IF”… Some sites work very well while others fail dismally. It is not that uncommon to get good seedling recruitment and I like to say that anyone can do this. Long-term survival is the hard part. In our area it seems like most seedlings die before they reach maturity unless they are growing near established plants.

For this reason seeds can be used to increase the genetic diversity within transplanted sites. This season many of the seeds will be used for fall broadcasting into ongoing restoration sites where we want to increase shoot density and genetic diversity. For something different a large portion will be held for growout into adult shoots that can be used in spring transplant efforts.

Our seed collection season begins some time in Late June to early July in parts of the South Shore Bays (e.g., Shinnecock Bay) and Bullhead Bay in the Peconic Estuary (if we collect there which we didn’t this year). There is then a little lull until late July as the plants in western Gardiners Bay mature.

Following this there is a large collection window beginning in early August for our Long Island Sound and Fishers Island sites. Given the density and size of the flowers off Fishers, we concentrated much of our work here this year.

I’m not sure if this year was a banner year or if we just hadn’t noticed how productive Fishers Island was. Our collection site is located just south of South Dumpling Island west of Flat Hammock. Here, most flowers are over 7 feet tall and a handful will fill ¼ of one of our bags. We were actually able to fill a bag in less than 10 minutes! If we tried hard it could be done in 5 minutes…

This may not sound too impressive unless you compare it to one of our sites with smaller, widely spaced flowers where it can take 1 hour to fill a bag.

Our collections were so extensive this year we had to borrow some tank space in the Shellfish Hatchery (Thanks Mikey!) as well as set up an outdoor tank next to our greenhouse. In the coming weeks the seeds will be separated from the flowering shoots and we will be left with what we hope is a large amount of seeds.

I look forward to broadcasting these in the hopes of adding to our restoration work.



Anonymous said...

Typical Southold mentality: Taking from Fishers Island without any return to Fishers Island.

Chris said...

Anonymous...sorry you feel that way. We are doing lots of research out at Fishers (check out our website and newsletter) that will help us understand how and why the grass grows so well there. Thanks for reading and I hope to change your mind.