Use of Artificial Substrates to Predict Habitat Suitability for SAV Restoration
In recent decades, the populations of SAV in the Chesapeake Bay have decreased in number. A large factor in this decline has been the amount of nutrients deposited in the Bay by human sources, which in turn cause a buildup of algae that blocks light to the plants. In an attempt to determine how much epiphytic algae a plant can tolerate, artificial substrates were used to mimic actual plants. The first experiments were arranged to find whether an increase in nutrients resulted in higher levels of epiphytic growth. We found a correlation in the spring, but not in the summer. The second experiment compared epiphytic growth on the artificial substrate to the grassbed density it was placed in. We found that as bed density increased, epiphytic growth decreased. The ultimate goal is to determine at what level of epiphytic growth plants can survive. The reasoning behind the difference between spring and summer is a combination of factors, including differences in grazing, precipitation, temperature, and the source of nutrients.