Seed collection site for restoring the aquatic plant Ruppia
This page is about the Ruppia seed collection site Lake Cantara. See Ruppia planting sites to find out where the seeds are being planted.
What is the Ruppia Translocation Project?
The aim of the Ruppia Translocation Project is to re-establish the native aquatic plant Ruppia tuberosa in several parts of the Coorong South Lagoon following its decline during the 2006-10 drought. In 2013, the first year of the project began.
Lake Cantara is the donor site; that is, seeds are collected from the lake to re-establish Ruppia in other parts of the lagoon.
Ruppia is very important in the Coorong ecosystem. The plants provide food and shelter for invertebrates, fish (particularly the small-mouthed hardyhead) and other animals, and waterbirds (including migratory shorebirds) eat its leaves and seeds.
This project builds on the Ruppia monitoring and research work undertaken by University of Adelaide Associate Professor David Paton.
What progress has been made?
Seed collection and translocation
An established and healthy population of Ruppia was identified in Lake Cantara in the Coorong National Park. This became the donor site for the project because the seeds here are high in density in the top sediment layer of the lake bed, making them perfect for collection.
Seed collection at Lake Cantara commenced in early 2013 when the plants had set seed and the lake bed was dry. A small excavator was used to scrape off the top 15 mm of sediment, after laying down track mats to reduce the impact of the excavator.
The seed was collected in strips, with even-width gaps to promote faster recovery of the population. The sediment was then transported to planting sites in the Coorong.
The Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) monitors Lake Cantara to check the recovery of its populations after collection.
Please visit the monitoring overview to see the current and past reports about Ruppia and a map of locations being monitored.
What has happened to Ruppia?
Beds of Ruppia, once dominant in the Coorong, rapidly declined during the 2006–10 drought, when water levels changed and salinity increased due to inadequate flows of freshwater over the barrages.
The loss of Ruppia tuberosa and other key species from the South Lagoon coincided with a decline in many waterbird species, including those protected under international agreements.
Today, water quality in the Coorong has improved and conditions are once again suitable for Ruppia growth. Because its seed bank was so severely exhausted, however, the plant has not naturally returned on a large scale.
Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources
The University of Adelaide, South Australian Research and Development Institute, Ngarrindjeri Regional Authority, Friends of the Coorong National Park
The Coorong and Lower Lakes Vegetation Program is a partnership between the Australian and South Australian Governments, local community groups and the Ngarrindjeri Regional Authority.