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SACRAMENTO: Reintroduction of Suaeda californica (California sea-blite) to historic San Francisco Bay habitat
California-Nevada Offices , July 9, 2007
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By Valary Bloom, Sacramento FWO
California sea-blite, (Suaeda californica) is a rare perennial subshrub in the goosefoot family (subfamily Chenopodiaceae).  The species was federally listed as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act in 1994.  It historically occurred along high tide lines in salt marshes of Morro Bay and central and south San Francisco Bay, often salt marshes bordering sand or shell beach edges.  The species had been extirpated in San Francisco Bay since about 1960, when, in the early 2000s, two failed attempts were made to reintroduce the plant to the San Francisco Bay’s western shoreline.  Seed dispersal from one of those failed reintroduction attempts resulted in successful spontaneous seedling establishment of Suaeda californica nearby.  Those plants are now robust and producing abundant seed.  In historic East Bay habitat, though, the species was absent, until Valary Bloom of the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office (SFWO), along with coastal plant ecologist, Peter Baye, reintroduced it earlier this year near Emeryville, California, in partnership with the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) and with funding through the SFWO Recovery Branch.

 

In March 2007, fourteen transplants were introduced along the high tide line of EBRPD’s Eastshore State Park, Alameda County.  Each transplant site was backfilled with a mixture of sand and partly decomposed leaf/macroalgal litter from nearby drift-lines, then watered with full strength commercial fertilizer.  No significant rain fell after the transplanting and a week of warm, dry weather followed transplanting.  A monitoring visit in April revealed the mortality of only four transplants, presumably from moisture deficit, as excavation revealed roots had not grown sufficiently into the surrounding substrate.  The remaining ten plants, however, were healthy and thriving.  Moderate to heavy seed production on at least half the plants is expected later this year, based on observed flowering.

 

The recovery needs of Suaeda californica will be detailed in the recovery plan for tidal marsh species of northern and central California, currently in preparation by the SFWO.  This reintroduction project marked the kick-off of implementation of the California Sea-blite (Suaeda californica) Reintroduction Plan, San Francisco Bay, California, an effort also funded by the SFWO Recovery Branch.  Implementation was designed to utilize volunteers from the general public and non-profit conservation organizations including local Audubon and California Native Plant Society chapters to conduct annual monitoring and light maintenance activities.  We expect this demonstration project to provide scientifically sound evidence of reintroduction success with Suaeda californica in San Francisco Bay, a major milestone on the road to recovery of the species.  We also expect to achieve these results with a highly cost-effective program and a method capable of replication at other sites.  Demonstration of high feasibility, success, cost-effectiveness, and repeatability may encourage more widespread restoration and reintroduction efforts aimed at declining or regionally extirpated estuarine plants.

 

So far, the results are encouraging!

 

Contact Info: Scott Flaherty, , Scott_Flaherty@fws.gov



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