Fourth Annual Long Island Natural History Conference














Thirty Years of Working with Eelgrass (Zostera marina) on Long Island: Status, Restoration, and Research

Chris Pickerell, Director and Habitat Restoration Specialist, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County Marine Program

Over the last 30 years CCE scientists have been involved with monitoring and restoring eelgrass (Zostera marina) around Long Island.  During that time, and in keeping with the worldwide trend, much of our local meadows have been lost.  The causes of these losses are numerous, but understanding how we came to this point is key to preserving this critical species in the future.  Research into the interaction of light and temperature on local populations has allowed us to explain why some populations persist and even thrive while most have declined or have disappeared entirely. This understanding has also helped us to develop new and innovative site selection tools and methods that take these factors into account.  In addition to this, more efficient planting methods, utilizing land-based volunteers, have allowed for more significant and in some cases successful restoration efforts. 

Chris Pickerell is the Director and Habitat Restoration Specialist with the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County Marine Program. His main area of interest is in the restoration and monitoring of coastal plant communities with a specific focus on eelgrass (Zostera marina L.). Over the last 23 years Chris has been directly involved with or helped to design and provide guidance for eelgrass restoration projects on the east and west coasts of the United States as well as in Europe.  In recent years, Chris and his team have developed innovative methods for restoration of seagrasses using seeds and at sites with extreme physical disturbance as well as a new system that involves the use of land-based volunteers to enhance eelgrass restoration efforts.  Email: