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It’s been almost two weeks since the end of the 10th International Seagrass Biology Workshop in Búzios, Brazil and I’ve decided to do a blog post before the memories get too fuzzy. Here’s a re-cap of what we did the last three days of the conference:

Day 3: Geting into the swing of things
We started the morning with the third plenary speaker for the Worshop, Sophie Arnoud-Haund who gave us a round-up of the state of seagrass genetics and clonality. She offered insights into clonality and how it affects conservation of seagrass meadows. This was followed by a second day of 10-minute talks with the theme of .
In the afternoon we had two workshop sessions – mapping and ecosystem services. The workshop on mapping discussed and listed the various methods used by researchers and the challenges faced when mapping seagrass – and we learnt of some pretty creative methods used for mapping and detecting seagrass like for example, strapping a camera on the back of a manatee! The second workshop was on seagrass ecosystem services which really got us thinking about the value of seagrasses and the services they provide as it required listing the services of seagrass by genera.

Day 4: Field trip Day & Poster Session
We went out to hunt seagrass on Day 4 and we were brought to a meadow of Halodule wrightii seagrass. When we got to the site, it was windy and threatening to rain, but some of us decided to brave the cold and jump right in. This enthusiasm was perhaps fueled by rumours of a seeker’s prize for the first person to find Ruppia maritima in the meadow, but despite our best efforts, I don’t think anyone managed to find it. Just as we were wrapping up, the sun came out and the weather became more of what we had hoped for for a field trip day.

We also had an evening poster session, with some very simulating discussion aided by a large spread of yummy cheeses and wine 🙂

Day 5: Wrap up and dinner!
Gary Kendrick gave the last plenary of the ISBW and gave us an overview of seagrass dispersal and connectivity. After the last session of talks and workshop, we were rewarded with a conference dinner – a buffet style affair which everyone enjoyed. The student presentation and poster awards were also given out to the top 4 oral and best poster presentation.

And that concluded ISBW10 – there were some bleary-eyed farewells the next morning but in all everyone agreed that it was a successful workshop. Congratulations to Joel Creed and his team for a wonderful job done. See you guys in China in 2014! 🙂

 

Dear WSA members,

The period for nomination for the next WSA Executive was extended, and closed on the 5 December, 2012.

The positions of Vice-President, Treasurer and Secretary are uncontested with single nominees for each position. The nominations received are as follows:

Vice-President: Richard Unsworth
Nominator: Len McKenzie
Seconder: Giuseppe Di Carlo

Treasurer: Jessie Jarvis
Nominator: Giuseppe Di Carlo
Seconder: Len McKenzie

Secretary: Len McKenzie
Nominator: Rob Coles
Seconder: Rudi Yoshida

There are two nominees for President so this position will be decided by a vote:

Nomination 1

Giuseppe Di Carlo
Nominator: Len McKenzie
Seconder: Richard Unsworth

Nomination 2

Mike van Keulen
Nominator: Anitra Thorhaug
Seconder: Evamaria Koch

Voting is now open but will close on the 19 December, 2012 — so please do not delay in submitting your ballot. Please note that only current financial members of the WSA are allowed to participate in this vote. Members have been emailed directly with instructions on how to cast their ballot, if you have not received instructions about voting please contact the WSA Secretary ASAP < wsa.secretary@gmail.com >.

On the 25th of November 2012, the beach town of Búzios, Brazil was invaded when approximately 100 scientists from every continent (except maybe Antarctica) descended on the unsuspecting local population to talk about grass, seagrass to be exact.

The constant dribble of rain did not dampen (pun totally intended) the atmosphere as the seagrass pilgrims gathered at the conference venue to talk shop. Old ties were re-affirmed and new ones forged over a buzz of excitement – and we were only at registration!

After receiving the welcome pack which includes a conference t-shirt – which many have deemed a godsend (a few of us under-packed) – and paid our dues (I for one, thoroughly shortchanged the committee when making a bank transfer), we were herded downstairs for the first plenary of the conference where Jim Fourqurean gave us an overview of carbon storage in seagrass meadows and what the latest advances are on the issue of blue carbon. Afterwards, live music and drinks fueled the mingling and discussions into the early evening.Plenary 1

We hit the ground running on Day 2 of the conference with a series of interesting talks starting with our second plenary speaker, Margareth Copertino, who gave us an overview of the status of seagrass research in Brazil. This was followed by the first oral session on management, followed by oral session 2 on disturbance, recovery and mitigation.

After lunch we had a productive workshop session on Seagrass and Blue Carbon. I was in the Economics of Blue Carbon group and there was a lively discussion, led by Kate O’Brien, who kept us on track with identifying the key issues. The group then re-convened to present the outcomes of their group discussions.

The organizing committee treated us to a Pizza night for the hard work we put in on the first full day and we were also treated to a slide show of photo contributions of seagrass and seagrass researchers. That’s a wrap up of Day 1 & 2, stay tuned for the field trip updates!

 

Dear Members

We would like to invite all members of the World Seagrass Association to submit articles for a WSA special issue of the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin titled “Seagrass meadows in a globally changing environment”.

A description of the special issue and its proposed content is listed below.

The special issue will be edited by myself, Rob Coles and Mike van Keulen. All submissions would need to be completed by the end of February, and we encourage potential authors to submit proposed titles (with a brief summary) to us asap.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Kind regards,
Richard Unsworth
Vice-President, WSA Inc.


Marine Pollution Bulletin Special Issue
Seagrass meadows in a globally changing environment
Proposed Editors: Richard Unsworth, Rob Coles, Mike Van Keulen
Overview
Seagrass meadows are valuable ecosystem service providers that may have a greater resilience to future environmental change than many marine habitats. Unfortunately these habitats of high functional importance are now being lost globally at an unprecedented rate, with water quality and other localised stressors putting their future viability in doubt. It is therefore critical that we learn more about the interactions between seagrass meadows and future environmental change in the anthropocene. This needs to be with particular reference to the consequences of poor water quality on ecosystem resilience and the effects of change on trophic interactions within the food web. Understanding and predicting the response of seagrass meadows to future environmental change requires an understanding of the natural long-term drivers of change and how these are currently influenced by anthropogenic stress. Conservation management of coastal and marine ecosystems now and in the future requires increased knowledge of how seagrass meadows respond to environmental change, and how they can be managed to be resilient to these changes. The proposed special issue aims to further enhance this knowledge by bringing together global expertise across this field and will solicit primary research and review articles. The proposed special issue would be in collaboration with the World Seagrass Association and would cover the following areas:

  • Understanding seagrass ecosystem resilience and adaptations in a globally changing environment
  • The impact of future climate on trophic interactions and habitat value within the seagrass food web
  • Quantifying and modelling the carbon sequestration capacity of seagrass meadows
  • Climate and ocean acidifications interactions with water quality and its impact on seagrass
  • Drivers of change within seagrass landscapes, and approaches to quantifying and modelling those drivers
  • Understanding risk in the management of seagrass meadows
  • Socio-economic consequences of environmental change to seagrass
  • Indigenous communities and seagrass conservation

Proposed timetable:
Invitation to submit articles: September 2012
Article submission deadline: February 2013
Reviews complete: July 2013
Estimated special issue publication Sept 2013

Every fortnight (or so we hope) we feature a seagrass meadow from around the world. This week, Rosemary Mc Closkey writes about her field site in Porth Dinllaen in North Wales. Rosemary is currently a Masters student at Swansea University and she is studying juvenile fish populations in Zostera marina meadows. 

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Photos and text by Rosemary Mc Closkey

I am a student from Swansea University and I am currently undertaking a month of field work for my Master’s thesis, where I am studying juvenile fish populations in a Zostera marina seagrass meadow in Porth Dinllaen on the Llŷn peninsula, North Wales. My data collection has been carried out alongside and with the support of an on-going collaborative project between SEACAMS and the National Trust here in Wales.

Seagrass bed at Porth Dinllaen on low water

I first visited the site with SEACAMS at the end of April this year to assist with their fish monitoring work and to assess some scarring of the bed caused by moorings in the bay. This also allowed me to get the ‘lay of the land’ so to speak, and to design the methodology for my project. I joined SEACAMS once more in June to carry out more work and to run trials on some small fish traps designed to catch shrimp and small fish. Unfortunately these yielded very little success and as I had yet to visit this site on the low spring tides, I was keen to return for an extended period so I could get a real feel for the site and to adjust my method.  Myself and a field assistant returned to Porth Dinllaen at the start of August with a smaller, lighter seine net with a finer mesh than that which I had used with SEACAMS in April and June. These nets seem to be working successfully and selecting the age/size classes that I wanted.

My research thus far is focused on assessing sites of varying complexity and heterogeneity within the meadow in order to elucidate whether small-scale variations within the bed affects species assemblages. During the 1st week of August, low water on spring tide caused the bed to become exposed, thus allowing some assistants and myself to carry out a habitat assessment.

Carrying out habitat assessment on the Z. marina bed

Plots of 36m2 were assessed and permanently marked out using marker pegs and GPS. Detailed photographs were also taken. I was initially skeptical as to whether or not the heavy duty orange pegs I had used to mark out the plots would last, but I was pleasantly surprised to see most of them have. They have proven very useful for relocating each plot. The main working hazard in that respect has been young kids stealing them for their sandcastles!

I have fished within each of the plots using an 8m beach seine net to assess the dominant species and size classes of juvenile fish. Initially I wasn’t sure whether I would catch the same species that were caught in the much larger seine net. I have found that I am catching all the same species as before, however the majority are juveniles, small fish and shrimps. The larger, fast moving finfish and bigger predators seem to evade the smaller net! The majority of the fish caught were wrasses, gobies, dragonets, sea scorpions, plaice, sticklebacks and pollack. We have also caught the slightly more elusive species such as little cuttlefish and pipefish.

Greater pipefish (Syngnathus acus). One of the many beautiful creatures in the Porth Dinllaen seagrass bed.

I plan to stay one more week at this beautiful location to collect some more fishing data. Getting access to the site for this length of time has been a real joy and I have been very fortunate to be able to carry out extended field work of this nature for my masters project. I look forward to returning to Swansea in order to write up my results and my thesis.

For more information on The National Trust: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/
For more information on SEACAMS: http://www.swan.ac.uk/seacams/

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