Center for Plant Restoration and Coastal Plant Research

Logo of the Center for Plant Restoration

GCRL's Center for Plant Restoration and Coastal Plant Research (CPR) is responding to a growing need for practical information and local plant sources for coastal restoration projects. The CPR acts as a catalyst to encourage local private coastal plant nursery businesses and assure that suitable plant stocks are available for restoration projects on the Mississippi Coast. To accomplish this, the Center is creating a scientific knowledge base and information exchange hub for growers, restoration teams, and decision makers. The effort is particularly important in light of the anticipated increase in demand for plants for restoration projects in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The CPR is also an active research center that has completed a wide variety of projects with publications in the peer-reviewed science literature.

The CPR is directed by Dr. Patrick Biber, Associate Professor of Marine Botany. He directs daily operations and looks after the financial and human resource activities of the Center. Dr. Biber created the Center in 2010 with the support of a grant from the Coastal Impact Assistance Program (CIAP). Since joining GCRL in 2004, Dr. Biber has also established a native plant nursery for propagating coastal plants for habitat restoration. The nursery is not intended to be a commercial source of plants, but supports research objectives and assists local businesses and organizations who can be commercial plant suppliers. Interested parties are encouraged to contact Dr. Biber.

Publications, data, and project summaries are available through the CPR website.

A typical coastal landscape in the northern Gulf of Mexico, with saltmarshes in the foreground (Spartina alterniflora) and shallow mudflats with seagrasses (Halodule and Thalassia) behind, followed by shallow subtital mudflats in the background. This mix of coastal habitats is critical for many of the shellfish and finfish that are beloved by local residents.

A typical coastal landscape in the northern Gulf of Mexico, with saltmarshes in the foreground (Spartina alterniflora) and shallow mudflats with seagrasses (Halodule and Thalassia) behind, followed by shallow subtidal mudflats in the background. This mix of coastal habitats is critical for many of the shellfish and finfish that are beloved by local residents.

Opportunities

There are significant opportunities to increase local sourcing of native plants for restoration work. At present, local supplies of native restoration plants are not adequate to meet the demand. The benefits of using local suppliers include local economic development and improved planting and growth results. Dr. Biber points out that local genotypes of a plant species adapted to that area are much hardier and grow better than genotypes of the same species brought from another area. For instance, a locally grown smooth cordgrass plant will out perform a plant grown in the Carolinas. The local economic benefits of locally sourced plants are apparent.

The CPR is developing a proposal to study the native plant market, supply system, and organizations involved in coastal restoration projects. They intend to meet with local native plant growers, the Corps of Engineers, and local NGOs and governments to understand the impediments to using local stocks and develop ways to encourage the development and use of local sources. The Center hopes to increase the awareness of opportunities and benefits of locally sourced native plants and help remove the administrative and procedural barriers that impede local suppliers. In parallel, the CPR will be provide a readily available source of information and advice to all involved.

CPR group at Horn Island after a long field day in July.

CPR group at Horn Island after a long July day of field work.