Scientific Sessions List
SS14 – Seagrass restoration
SS01 – Global Change and Consumer Effects – Seagrass Resilience in the Anthropocene
Marjolijn Christianen (Wageningen University, The Netherlands) – email@example.com
Co-conveners: Justin Cambell (Florida International University), Nicole Esteban (Swansea University), Fee Smulders (Wageningen University)
Seagrasses face unprecedented challenges in the Anthropocene. Their functioning is not only disrupted by local drivers like eutrophication and fishing but also increasingly by global change drivers such as rising temperatures, marine heatwaves, invasive species, and consumer range shifts. Understanding their resilience is essential, yet challenges persist. Notably, uncertainty remains about the capacity of these systems to respond to changing environmental conditions. To address the challenges posed by the Anthropocene, this session brings together experts from diverse disciplines to help unravel the complex interactions between global change, consumer effects, and seagrass resilience and functioning. We actively encourage the submission of projects that use (regionally coordinated) field experiments to assess seagrass functioning and resilience across large spatial scales. We particularly seek experiments that link changes in seagrass physiology to geographic shifts in either environmental variables or consumer identity/food web structure.
Additionally, we welcome other projects with cross-disciplinary collaborations. These could include but are not restricted to; remote sensing, food web ecology, niche modeling, biotelemetry (animal-borne cameras), genetics, and oceanographic dispersal models. Join us in this engaging session, which will help inform the development of actionable solutions for seagrass conservation and management.
SS02 – Large scale approaches to seagrass ecology: integrating diverse approaches to produce a global view of seagrass ecosystems
Jay Stachowicz (University of California Davis, USA) – firstname.lastname@example.org
Co-conveners: Emmett Duffy (Smithsonian Institution)
Considerable progress has been made in seagrass biology and conservation over the past decade by applying approaches that operate at larger scales than that of the individual bed or site. This includes tools from fields such as genomics, microbiology, physiology, bioinformatics, and remote sensing, but also distributed application of traditional ecological approaches among large biogeographic scales. This has allowed us to move past recognizing that processes vary among individual beds toward a more predictive and mechanistic understanding of how different drivers vary in space and time. Among recent advances have been an enhanced understanding of seagrass dispersal and colonization history, the potential role of seagrass-associated microbes, the spread and impact of seagrass disease and the effects of changing ocean chemistry on seagrasses. The large scale goals set by restoration and conservation approaches will require enhanced understanding of these large scale patterns and processes. In this session, we explicitly focus on the progress that has been made from studying seagrass biology in this way. We welcome talks that either (a) focus on comparisons of seagrass systems at large scales or (b) integrate multiple techniques or approaches from different fields to answer fundamental or applied questions in seagrass biology or conservation. We expect that talks in this session will showcase the novel ways in which researchers are adopting a large scale perspective or integrating tools and techniques from multiple disciplines.
SS03 – Seagrass trait-based ecology applied to seagrass responses to environmental change, biodiversity, ecosystem services, and conservation.
Carmen B. de los Santos (Centre of Marine Sciences of Algarve, Portugal) – email@example.com
Co-conveners: Camilla Gustafsson (Tvärminne Zoological Station, University of Helsinki) – Agustín Moreira-Saporiti (Marine Biological Laboratory)
Trait-based ecology in the study of seagrasses still lags behind that of terrestrial plants, despite being an approach that has proven to be key in understanding how the functional diversity of plants influences their response to environmental factors, and their effects on ecosystem properties and services. In the Anthropocene, theoretical and quantitative approaches such as trait-based ecology are increasingly needed to understand the changes that seagrasses are currently undergoing and will undergo in the future, and how those changes will influence the associated biodiversity, ecosystem services provision, and conservation actions.
This session aims to bring together ecological research studies that use a trait-based approach to understand the responses of seagrasses to environmental changes, how their functional structure influences biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services, and how this can be applied to seagrass conservation. Observational, experimental, theoretical, and modelling studies that elucidate the role of seagrass traits in the study of their ecological functioning are welcome and can be presented as oral or flash talks and posters.
SS04 – Seagrass genetics in the Anthropocene
Patrick Larkin (Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, USA) – firstname.lastname@example.org
Co-conveners: Paul Bologna (Montclair State University), Traci Erin Cox (University of New Orleans), Randall Hughes (Northeastern University), Ester Serrao (CCMAR), Jay Stachowicz (University of California Davis)
Genetic variation in natural populations is key for their long-term survival. The aim of this session will be to provide a venue for the discussion of seagrass genetics research, especially as it pertains to environmental change, conservation, and management. It will also provide a forum for outreach to those with limited genetic backgrounds, to discuss how seagrass genetic and genomics tools can be used more broadly. Key questions will include: Can the genetic identity of populations be linked to plant physiological responses to anthropogenic pressures under changing climatic conditions? How have anthropogenic pressures influenced genetic variation in seagrass beds? and How has genetic variation contributed to seagrass bed resistance to, and recovery from, anthropogenically-induced disturbance? Discussions will help address problems such as How can information on genetic variation best be incorporated into conservation and restoration planning? What tools (molecular, statistical, computational) are best suited for addressing genetic questions, and Should genetic diversity be used as a criterion for evaluating seagrass mitigation from losses associated with coastal development and construction?
SS05 – Seagrasses in ‘the real world’: resisting and recovering from multiple stressors
Hung Manh Nguyen (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, ISR) – email@example.com
Chanelle Webster (Edith Cowan University, AU) – firstname.lastname@example.org
Co-conveners: Kathryn McMahon (Edit Cowan University), Nicole Said (Edit Cowan University), Fiona Tomas Nash (IMEDEA), Gidon Winters (Dead Sea Arava Center)
Seagrass response to environmental change has been difficult to quantify due to the range of natural and anthropogenic disturbances, and their local context. Two major limitations to being able to understand seagrass response to global change, is 1) the lack of studies that characterise the variation both within and across species, and 2) to date previous studies have generally focused on single stressors, which is less applicable in ‘the real world’ where plants are exposed to multiple stressors. We are seeing an increasing number of studies assessing multiple stressors in both field settings and mesocosm systems, which is in part due to the rapid development of scientific equipment and fully controllable mesocosm systems. This has allowed for a more precise and comprehensive understanding of seagrasses’ response to environmental changes, providing more accurate predictions about their future distribution in an era of ocean change. We want to discuss advantages, challenges and future directions of conducting multiple-stressor experiments on seagrasses that would benefit the audience while designing their future studies. We invite researchers to present their findings from field or experimental studies that incorporate multiple factors, examine the effects on seagrass response across multiple levels of biological organisation (e.g. cellular to meadow scale) and use this as a basis to make inferences about future seagrass resilience. Studies that include the response of early life history stages and / or across a range of life history stages are also welcome.
SS06 – Ocean acidification research in seagrass ecosystems: From impacts to solutions
Gema Hernan (Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies, Spain) – email@example.com
Co-conveners: Iris Hendriks (Mediterranean Institute for Advances Studies), Aurora M Ricart (Institut de Ciències del Mar)
Ocean and coastal acidification are changing seawater chemistry and threatening marine communities. However, it is unclear whether marine macrophytes such as seagrasses would be impacted or benefited from the increase in CO2 available for photosynthesis, and how these effects will be influenced by concomitant climatic and anthropogenic stressors. Changes in CO2 may lead to changes in seagrass species composition, abundance and distribution by impacting characteristics such as growth rates, morphometry, belowground resources and chemical composition including nutritional quality. On the other hand, seagrass ecosystems can locally modify the intensity of OA effects and have been suggested as potential biogenic refugia against OA in coastal regions. However, it is yet unresolved the spatial and temporal magnitude of this effect, and what are the main drivers.
The aim of this session is to bring together the current research on ocean and coastal acidification in seagrass ecosystems, as well as discuss possible future trajectories in a high CO2 world.
SS07 – Macro-micro interactions in seagrass ecosystems
Ulisse Cardini (Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Italy) – firstname.lastname@example.org
Co-conveners: Fabio Bulleri (University of Pisa), Paul Gribben (University of New South Wales)
Seagrass ecosystems are vital for coastal resilience and biodiversity due to their role in carbon sequestration, nutrient cycling, and habitat provision. Understanding these ecosystems necessitates grasping both macro- and micro-scale interactions. This session delves into the pivotal role of macro-micro interactions in shaping seagrass ecosystem health and stability. On the micro-scale, seagrass ecosystems host complex interactions among various biota, forming hierarchically nested ecosystems. Microbes like bacteria and fungi play critical roles in nutrient cycling and decomposition. Seagrass-associated flora and fauna, including fish and invertebrates (e.g., bivalves and sponges), interact with their own microbiota, the free-living community, and the seagrass itself, influencing nutrient dynamics and ecosystem services. Macro- and micro-scale interactions create feedback loops. For example, seagrass productivity influences detritus available to microorganisms and detritivores, subsequently affecting nutrient dynamics. Understanding these interactions is vital for conservation and management efforts, as seagrass habitats face threats from climate change, coastal development, and overfishing. Effective conservation strategies must consider the broader context and intricacies of seagrass ecosystems. This session emphasizes the need for multidisciplinary research and integrated management approaches to safeguard these critical coastal habitats, recognizing the fundamental significance of macro-micro interactions.
SS08 – Seagrass Microbe Interactions – Harnessing the Microbiome
Aschwin Engelen (CCMar, Portugal) – email@example.com
Gina Chaput (University of California, Davis, United States) – firstname.lastname@example.org
In terrestrial systems, humans have repeatedly harnessed the power of plant-associated microbes (the microbiome) to promote resilience in the face of stressors such as drought and disease. To establish this same baseline for the protection and restoration of seagrass meadows, we need to catalog both the taxonomy and functional roles of microbes associated with seagrasses across plant life-stages (e.g., seeds, shoots, meadows). This may require creative and diverse approaches including environmental manipulation, comparing composition across contexts, -omic approaches, or direct inoculation. The goal of this session is to highlight researchers from across the globe that are “harnessing the microbiome” to study the composition and role of microbes in seagrass. We welcome contributions from any aspect of seagrass-microbe interactions, including (but not limited to) how the microbiome assembles and influences meadow sediments, seed germination, resistance to wasting disease or sulfide intrusion, supplementation of nitrogen needs, and any other plant-microbe interactions that may contribute to the productivity, or function of seagrass beds.
SS09 – Novel approaches to assist seagrasses in a changing environment
Jessica Pazzaglia (Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Italy) – email@example.com
Co-conveners: Thorsten Reusch (GEOMAR, Kiel), Lázaro Marín-Guirao (CSIC-IEO, Murcia), Isabella Provera (Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn)
In a current scenario of global changes, the increasing frequency of extreme weather events and direct anthropogenic pressures threaten seagrass ecosystems worldwide. Additionally, the co-occurrence of different environmental stressors increasingly threatens the success of ongoing seagrass restoration programs. This led to the idea that seagrass restoration should consider facilitating adaptation to future stress scenarios rather than recovering what has been lost. Assisted evolution approaches can accelerate the natural evolutionary processes of seagrasses by inducing genetic, epigenetic, and/or microbiome changes that enhance stress tolerance to future environmental changes. This session will explore novel approaches to assist seagrass restoration with a view to reinforcing seagrass resilience. We invite presentations that propose evolutionary-inspired strategies to improve restoration outcomes by integrating the following topics:
– Manipulative approaches to extend seagrass tolerance ranges: biotic and abiotic priming, genotype selection, microbiome manipulation
– Exploration of stress-memory associated mechanisms and multi-level assessment of seagrass performance (physiology, genetics, and epigenetics)
– Holobiont manipulation to enhance seagrass resilience
– Practical approaches to integrate assisted evolution techniques into existing restoration, including identification of suitable seagrass species for cultivation, propagation, seed / seedling production, and maintenance methods
SS10 – Bird’s Eye views of Seagrassscapes
Dimitris Poursanidis (Foundation for Research and Technology Hellas, Greece) – firstname.lastname@example.org
Co-conveners: Vassilis Papathanasiou (Fisheries Research Institute, Greece) – email@example.com
The spatiotemporal dimension of seagrasses, in space and time, where not always studied in a consistent and precise manner due to limitations in available data, methods, and computational resources. Nowadays, a vast array of sensors, from centimeter scales using drones, to meter scale and more from a variety of space-based satellite sensors, allow the mapping and monitoring of the unsung hero of the coastal zone. The opening of historical archives of the Landsat program, have allowed the extraction of knowledge from the past. The availability of meter-scale data from Planet, allow for almost daily monitoring of meadows; this can be for the monitoring of a restoration site to the monitoring of the natural evolution of fast-growing species. The use of drones, even if are under certain limitations according to national laws, allow an unprecedented detail in mapping even at species level using multispectral and hyperspectral sensors. All in all, the proposed session will present the advancements in the field of seagrass mapping and monitoring from various sensors highlighting benefits, pitfalls and workaround solutions for a wider adoption of new technologies in the field of seagrass ecology and monitoring.
SS011 – Seagrass observing and monitoring for the future
Marlene Jahnke (Gothenburg University, Sweden) – firstname.lastname@example.org
Lina Mtwana Nordlund (Uppsala University, Sweden) – email@example.com
Co-conveners: Emmett Duffy (Smithsonian Institution), Eduardo Infantes (Gothenburg University), Per Moksnes (Gothenburg University)
This session will focus on seagrass observing and monitoring and how we, as a global community, can work together in a more coordinated and interoperable manner. We welcome abstracts from all around the world focusing on monitoring on all scales and levels.
Recent developments in remote sensing technology (eg. satellites, drones, machine learning, etc.), oceanographic and biophysical modelling, genomics (to assess quality, connectivity, adaptation and temporal changes), eDNA and open data practices create unprecedented opportunities to understand seagrass ecosystems. While this rapid development is ongoing there is also an urgent need for openly available, coordinated, interoperable, and sustained ocean observations to deliver essential information for our sustainable development, safety, wellbeing, and prosperity. As we cannot observe and measure everything at all times, a series of Essential Ocean Variables (EOVs) have been designated by the Global Ocean Observing System, IOC-UNESCO. These variables are selected because they can provide critical information on the state and health of the ocean for scientists, managers, and policymakers. “Seagrass cover and composition“ is one of the Essential Ocean Variables. The seagrass EOV includes seagrass cover, species composition, and distribution, along with multiple suggested variables, e.g. environmental variables and associated organisms. Furthermore, to understand where, when, and why seagrass ecosystems are changing, we need a much more holistic and integrated approach that also includes, for example, economic, social and climate indicators.
SS012 – Securing resilient and just seagrass social-ecological systems
Benjamin Jones (Project Seagrass) – firstname.lastname@example.org
Co-conveners: Lucy Coals (Deakin University & Project Seagrass), Leanne Cullen-Unsworth (Project Seagrass), Jennifer Rehage (Florida International University), Lina Mtwana Nordlund (Uppsala University)
Conserving biodiversity and combating climate change while simultaneously supporting human societies is one of the most pressing challenges of the Anthropocene. Seagrass meadows are archetypical social-ecological systems where humans and nature often collide. Within seagrass social-ecological systems, humans are agents of change whereby both extractive (e.g., fishing, gleaning) and restorative actions (e.g., management, restoration) frequently happen in tandem. As we aim to progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, governance forces are rapidly changing how humans view and manage seagrass meadows (e.g., blue carbon credits), but care is needed to ensure management is resilient to shocks, and just, to allow all resource users to benefit. This session 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.
We encourage abstract submissions focusing on:
– Involvement of local communities in seagrass conservation, restoration and management (e.g., local ecological knowledge, participatory and citizen science, volunteering),
– The diverse and numerous ways humans interact with seagrass meadows (e.g., tourism, capture and recreational fisheries, gleaning, boating), both in the past and present,
– Sustainable management of multi-use seagrass systems (e.g., use of advanced mooring systems, sustainable recreational fisheries), and
– How society, institutions and organisations are changing and growing for the benefit of seagrass meadows (e.g., public perception, seagrass-centric grants, and funding)
SS13 – Toward better understandings and conservation of Tropical Asian Seagrasses: Succeeding the will of Prof. Miguel D. Fortes (1947-2023)
Masahiro Nakaoka (Hokkaido University, Japan) – email@example.com
Co-conveners: Maria Lourdes San Diego-McGlone (University of the Philippines), Wilfredo Campos (University of the Philippines)
Seagrass beds in Southeast Asia host the richest marine biodiversity, but they are still facing the greatest risks of decline and degradation due to multiple human impacts. Prof. Miguel D. Fortes (1947-2023) devoted his research career to understanding seagrass ecosystems in this region and to making conservation efforts in practice by leading interdisciplinary actions of scientists, citizens and decision makers. This session is proposed in tribute to him. We will first review his outstanding achievements in seagrass ecology and conservation. We will then introduce up-to-date activities on seagrass research and conservation practices in this area. Based on these presentations, we would like to discuss with the participants how we can succeed his will for better understanding and conservation of seagrass ecosystems, not only in Southeast Asia, but all over the world.
SS14 – Seagrass restoration
Agostino Tomasello (University of Palermo, IT) – firstname.lastname@example.org
Co-conveners: Salvatrice Vizzini (University of Palermo), Geraldina Signa (University of Palermo), Francesco Rende (ISPRA), Leonardo Tunesi (ISPRA), Fabio Badalamenti (CNR-IAS), Monica Montefalcone (University of Genova)
Seagrasses provide a wide range of ecosystem services but are globally under threat due to human activities. As recently recommended by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, which declared 2021-2030 the ‘UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration’, active restoration is a viable strategy to accelerate recovery and increase ecosystem resilience by re-establishing processes and functions. Recent years have seen a growing interest in ecosystem restoration science, leading to the proliferation of approaches and techniques aimed at enhancing the effectiveness of seagrass restoration programs. Work conducted so far has covered different and innovative aspects of the restoration chain (e.g., modelling support for siting, emergent transplantation tools and techniques, refinement of monitoring procedures for measuring restoration success at different hierarchical levels, from plant morphology to ecosystem functions). This session aims to gather and share the latest worldwide experiences on restoration of seagrass habitats, which are fundamental to marine environments and human well-being. Inputs on restoration outcomes (successes and failures), approaches, tools and techniques, short-term and long-term monitoring protocols, upscaling trials, implications on biological, ecological and socio-economic effects of restoration will be welcomed.
SS15 – Recurring and emerging topics in the Anthropocene (open session)
Irene Olivé (Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Italy) – email@example.com
Co-conveners: Emanuela Dattolo (Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn), Gabriele Procaccini (Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn)
Open session. In this session we welcome all the current research focussing on seagrasses.