Project Seagrass


Founding Director


Director and Co-Founder, Project Seagrass
PhD Student, Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences, Stockholm University

Ben’s previous work at the Sustainable Places Research Institute was focused on tropical seagrass meadows where he worked on an international project investigating drivers of seagrass decline across multiple scales throughout South East Asia.

As founding director his work focuses on improving knowledge and understanding of seagrass ecosystems in the UK while working to enhance public awareness of their importance and threats using creative design to communicate scientific research to the wider public.

Ben’s now conducting a PhD at Stockholm University where he is investigating the relationship between seagrass meadows, small-scale fisheries and poverty alleviation.


Ben’s research is primarily focused on seagrass ecosystems and small-scale fisheries. His PhD project investigates the linkages between biota, biodiversity and food security using seagrass meadows as a model socio-ecological system. Ben’s interested in these linkages more broadly to provide evidence for policy change across the Indo-Pacific that gives priority to seagrass meadows for the services they provide to people (e.g. livelihoods & food security).

He’s also interested in the conservation concerns of small-scale seagrass fisheries. More specifically this includes the by-catch (in terms of fish) implications of some fishing strategies and issues associated to destructive gears (e.g. mosquito net fisheries).


Ben obtained a B.Sc. in Marine Biology at Swansea University where he went on to obtain an M.Res. in Aquatic Ecology and Conservation. His master’s thesis focused on the role of seagrasses as indicators of change in the British Isles where multiple characteristics were used to assess how seagrasses responded to varying degrees of anthropogenic stress.

Ben’s previous research has focused on examining the factors that affect seagrass growth and he was involved with an international project with the Zostera Experimental Network (ZEN) & Swansea University to examine these factors on a global scale. Other experience lies within the use of Baited Remote Underwater Video (BRUV) to assess fish abundance and diversity across multiple habitats in the Indian Ocean.

More recently Ben has been involved as a technical expert in development of The Dugong and Seagrass Research Toolkit and as a scientific advisor in the development of BBC’s landmark series Blue Planet 2.


Jones, B. L., Cullen-Unsworth, L. C., Howard, R., & Unsworth, R. K. (2018). Complex yet fauna-deficient seagrass ecosystems at risk in southern Myanmar. Botanica Marina, 61(3), 193-203.

Unsworth, R.K.F, Ambo-Rappe, R., Jones, B.L., La Nafie, Y.A., Irawan, A., Hernawan, U.E., Moore, A.M. and Cullen-Unsworth, L.C. 2018. Indonesia’s globally significant seagrass meadows are under widespread threat. Science of the Total Environment 634, pp. 279-286.

Jones, al. 2018. Conservation concerns of small-scale fisheries: By-catch impacts of a shrimp and finfish fishery in a Sri Lankan lagoon. Frontiers in Marine Science 5, article number: 52.

Jones, B.L, Cullen-Unsworth, L.C and Unsworth, R.K.F. 2018. Tracking nitrogen source using δ15N reveals human and agricultural drivers of seagrass degradation across the British Isles. Frontiers in Plant Science 9, article number: 133.

Cullen-Unsworth, L.C., Jones, B.L., Lilley, R. and Unsworth, R.K.F. 2018. Secret gardens under the sea: What are seagrass meadows and why are they important? Frontiers for Young Minds 6(2)

Jones, al. 2017. Crowdsourcing conservation: The role of citizen science in securing a future for seagrass. Marine Pollution Bulletin

Cullen-Unsworth, L.C., Jones, B.L., Seary, R., Newman, R. and Unsworth, R.K.F. 2017. Reasons for seagrass optimism: local ecological knowledge confirms presence of dugongs. Marine Pollution Bulletin

Hind-Ozan, E.J. and Jones, B.L.2017. Seagrass science is growing: a report on the 12th International Seagrass Biology Workshop. Marine Pollution Bulletin

Unsworth, R.K.F., Williams, B., Jones, B.L.and Cullen-Unsworth, L.C 2017. Rocking the boat: damage to eelgrass by swinging boat moorings. Frontiers in Plant Science 8, article number: 1309.

Unsworth, R.K.F, Jones, B.L.and Cullen-Unsworth, L.C 2016. Seagrass meadows are threatened by expected loss of peatlands in Indonesia. Global Change Biology 22(9), pp. 2957-2958.

Jones, B.L.and Unsworth, R.K.F. 2016. The perilous state of seagrass in the British Isles. Royal Society Open Science 3, article number: 150596.