Date of Award

Winter 2012

Project Type


Program or Major

Natural Resources

Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Frederick T Short


Eelgrass (Zostera marina L.), an underwater marine flowering plant, has a high degree of morphological plasticity that allows it to survive and grow under a range of conditions and adapt to environmental changes. The degree to which resilience to stress varies among eelgrass populations is important for eelgrass conservation and management. Eelgrass plants from ten genetically differentiated populations were used in a mesocosm experiment where light availability and sediment organic content were manipulated. Productivity and survival were inhibited and morphology was altered by the stress treatments, with these plant responses differing significantly among populations. To further test differences in resilience, eelgrass from the populations exhibiting the greatest resilience were transplanted into a restoration site. Eelgrass from only one population survived and expanded. The findings of the mesocosm and field experiments indicate that eelgrass resilience to stress and transplant success are likely influenced by source population characteristics.