Project Seagrass

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Between the 17th and 21st June 2024, over 500 scientists, conservation professionals, and managers will converge in Naples, Italy for the 15th International Seagrass Biology Workshop (ISBW15). It will be two years since the last meeting in Annapolis, USA. The theme of ISBW15 is “Seagrasses in the Anthropocene”, centred around the fact that human activities are placing ever-increasing pressure on seagrass ecosystems at both a local and global scale.  

As a result of ongoing changes in environmental conditions, seagrass ecosystems have altered to an extent that has not previously been observed. The challenge currently facing the global community is the need to establish a new baseline and protect, restore, and rehabilitate the seagrass ecosystems that currently remain.

Workshops

Ben, Leanne and Lucy will be hosting a session on “Securing resilient and just seagrass social-ecological systems” which explores how we can manage and conserve seagrass meadows for both people and planet, with a view to showcasing how humans are an integral part of seagrass systems, shaping ecological dynamics both positively and negatively, that we can no longer ignore. 

Ben will also be co-hosting a workshop on the final day of the conference focused on Hypervolume modelling – a multivariate tool for seagrass ecosystem assessments. During the workshop, Ben and his colleagues will present multiple case studies using hypervolumes in seagrass ecosystems, followed by a walkthrough of the data and R code used to conduct the hypervolume analyses.  

Talks

The Project Seagrass team will be delivering a number of talks throughout the week of the conference. 

Esther will discuss the threats that seagrass ecosystems across the British Isles are currently experiencing as a result of poor water quality. Within the context of an increased interest in seagrass restoration, the talk will emphasise the need to understand current threats including water quality, coastal development, and poor land use in order to conserve existing seagrass ecosystems, many of which are approaching their ecological tipping point. 

Ben will deliver a talk on the importance of capacity building to reduce parachute science and to fill gaps in existing knowledge of seagrass. Ben will present an approach developed through the IKI Seagrass Ecosystem Services project which sought to deliver site-specific assessments of seagrass health, and to evaluate the ecosystem services seagrass provides. As part of this project a group of six local NGOs and community groups at project sites (Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines and Timor-Leste) were empowered to assess seagrass with the provision of technical tools and capacity building.  

ISBW Conference Logo

In her talk, Anouska will assess the role of temperate seagrass meadows (Z. Marina) in supporting fisheries and quantifying its commercial value using a Seagrass Residency Index (SRI) method. Using case study data from 7 UK seagrass meadow sites the research presents a contemporary picture of the economic value of seagrass meadows. 

Emma’s talk will present data from a trans-national study (Scotland, England, France, and the Netherlands) which investigated planting density and configuration in Z. noltii restoration work using core transplantation. Going forwards, the partnership will continue to assess the site-specific differences and explore effective restoration methods for Z. nolti 

Richard will present a talk on the interrelationship between seagrass ecosystem services.   

Posters

Alongside the workshops and talks, members of the team will be presenting posters at the conference. 

Lucy’s poster will highlight the high variability in seagrass restoration success, exploring lessons learned and how learning from setbacks and successes can inform future restoration. 

Emily will present data from a number of separate trials examining the use of a range of substrates and additions, such as nutrients, to determine the most effective methods of growing seagrass in artificial environments. 

To find out more about the conference visit the International Seagrass Biology Workshop website.