Zostera marina

SAV Seedlings

Thank you to St. Mary's College of MD students for their work last summer on the St. Mary's River Project.


While research concerning submersed aquatic vegetation (SAV) habitats has grown dramatically in the last few decades (Duarte, 1999), the worldwide decline of these critical habitats has continued in many areas. Increasingly, research is focusing on ways to prevent these complex ecosystems from suffering further losses, and to eventually restore them to some measure of their former health. Within Chesapeake Bay and its tributary systems SAV habitat currently occupies between 10-20% of the area found earlier in the 20th century (VIMS, 2001). A number of studies have shown that declines in light availability due to increased turbidity as well as epiphyte growth were ultimately responsible for the loss of SAV in Chesapeake Bay. Since the period of greatest SAV decline within Chesapeake Bay (1960s and 1970s), some progress in water quality improvement has been made (www.chesapeakebay.net). As a result, there is great interest in restoring SAV to areas where water quality may be sufficient to support a restoration effort. Our research is focused on ways to measure and understand the dynamics of epiphyte accumulation on SAV and to better monitor the health of existing SAV as well as select locations for SAV restoration.

Related Information:

Epiphytes and Light: an overview of how light attenuation from the water column and epiphytic material affect SAV distribution and survival

SAV in the Patuxent Estuary: historical distributions of SAV in the Patuxent River near the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory

Publications and Reports:

Stankelis, R.M., Smail, P.W., Bailey, E.M., Boynton, W.R., 2004. An assessment of SAV epiphyte loading and local water quality conditions at Blossom Point, MD, 2002. Technical Report to U.S. Army Research Laboratory. Ref. No. [UMCES] CBL 04-008.

Stankelis, R.M., Naylor, M.D., Boynton, W.R., 2003. Submerged aquatic vegetation in the mesohaline region of the Patuxent Estuary: past, present, and future status. Estuaries 26: 186-195.

Stankelis, R.M., Lawrence, J.M, Bean, B.W., and Boynton, W.R., 2002. An assessment of seasonal submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) epiphyte loading at Blossom Point, Maryland, 2001. Ref. No. [UMCES] CBL 02-0067.

Stankelis, R.M., Frank, J.M., Lawrence, J.M., and Boynton, W.R., 2001. An assessment of seasonal submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) epiphyte loading at Blossom Point, Maryland, 2000. Ref. No. [UMCES] CBL 01-0009.

Lubbers, L., Boynton, W.R., Kemp, W.M., 1990. Variations in structure of estuarine fish communities in relation to abundance of submersed vascular plants. Marine Ecology Progress Series 65: 1-14.