A project undertaken at Deakin University, and supervised by Dr Stacey Trevathan-Tackett.
In the UN’s Decade on Restoration, we are urgently looking for novel and innovative ways to restore degraded ecosystems around the world. Coastal ecosystems, like saltmarshes, have experienced declines due to competition with agricultural and industrial land use over the past century. These lands are now ripe for revegetation and regeneration with the development of biodiversity and carbon credits for restoring plant and soil functions.
Active restoration may be necessary when an ecosystem is so degraded that the environment and soil are inhospitable, making the initial establishment of pioneering species or seeds challenging. This may be due to erosion and soil conditions detrimental to root establishment. Understanding how the microbiomes of the plant and surrounding soil change during restoration will provide important clues to the success or failure of revegetation into new areas.
This project will investigate connectivity and development of microbiomes of saltmarsh seeds and roots during restoration. We will apply seeds directly to soil and transplant the pioneering saltmarsh species Salicornia quinqueflora to areas that are currently unvegetated. We will apply these methods to plots with and without a biodegradable structure. The 3D printed lattice will act as a soil stabiliser to help reduce erosion and enhance sediment accumulation so as to promote root and seed establishment.
We will employ a comprehensive monitoring design to capture several metrics of success, including seed, root and soil microbiome transferal and development; seed capture and germination; plant expansion, diversity and survival; and soil condition and accumulation.
By facilitating and enhancing coastal revegetation in challenging environments while also simultaneously investigating the microbiome, we will produce foundational new knowledge to fundamental and applied aspects of coastal wetland restoration.