Seagrasses

F.O.S.T.E.R. (Florida Oceanographic Seagrass Training, Education and Restoration) is a community-based research and restoration program that seeks to restore and protect seagrass populations in the Indian River Lagoon, Florida. To better understand the health of the lagoon, changes in seagrasses over time and improve restoration efforts, FOS staff and volunteers monitor the survival and growth of natural and restored seagrass beds in the lagoon.

 

Why Seagrasses?

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Seagrasses are sensitive to changes in the environment and act as a key indicator of the lagoon’s health. Seagrasses are marine flowering plants that require sunlight and thrive in clear, shallow waters. As a key foundational habitat in the Indian River Lagoon, seagrasses form complex and expansive meadows. Essential to the lagoon, seagrasses provide nursery and refuge habitat for many species, produce oxygen for animals, absorb excess nutrients, and help maintain water quality.

Explore our monitoring programs below!

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Our ongoing monthly seagrass monitoring volunteer network aims to assess the state of seagrass habitat at sites throughout the Indian River Lagoon and St Lucie Estuary. Our trained citizen scientists undertake percentage coverage surveys of the different seagrass species, Caulerpa algae and drift algae present at their site. Volunteers also measure the height of the canopy of each seagrass species and assess total site coverage through haphazard quadrats.

With the help of our citizen science volunteers, we can monitor multiple sites throughout the lagoon – filling a needed monthly monitoring gap in seagrass research in the area!

Latest Trends

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Monthly percentage frequency occurrence of present seagrass species, drift algae and Caulerpa algae species in the Indian River Lagoon and St. Lucie Estuary. Data is gathered across 10 sites on a monthly basis by citizen science volunteers.

Seagrass planting units used in restoration projects are monitored for survival and growth (i.e. shoot densities, heights). We also compare different restoration methods, such as how oyster reefs affect survival and the type of planting units used, on seagrass success.

Click HERE to learn more about our restoration program.