By Brigit van Tussenbroek

Small invertebrates play a central role in seagrass communities as controllers of epiphyton and conduits for energy transfer from primary producers to higher trophic levels. Van Tussenbroek and collaborators at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, highlight a new interaction between meso-grazers and seagrasses by describing the foraging of invertebrates on the pollen/mucilage masses of the seagrass Thalassia testudinum during the night.

Male turtlegrass flower with invertebrate.

The fauna visiting the flowers was highly diverse 252 specimens belonging to 37 families and 57 species of crustaceans (Classes Maxillopoda, Ostracoda and Malacostraca) were found on 76 flowers, and 15 species were new records for the region. Annelids (mainly polychaetes) were less abundant (60 specimens) and diversified (13 species) and they exhibited no obvious differences in their visits to flowers with or without pollen. Negative consequences for reproductive success of the seagrass of the consumption of pollen by the invertebrates were most likely insignificant, because the quantities of removed pollen were very small. However, these invertebrates may serve as pollinators of T. testudinum, which if confirmed, makes this observation the first record of animal-pollination in the marine environment.

Check out the YouTube video

Find the paper in MEPS

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
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

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