International Seagrass Biology Workshop 13

15 Jun 2018

16 Jun 2018

17 Jun 2018

Time Programme
6:00 AM – 9:00 AM Session A
WS8: Mapping and analysis of drone imagery
(Intertidal Fieldtrip)

Session B
WS9:Using in situ physiology techniques to better understand seagrass capacity and resilience
(Intertidal Fieldtrip)

9:00 AM – 12:30 PM Session A
WS8: Mapping and analysis of drone imagery

Session B
WS9:Using in situ physiology techniques to better understand seagrass capacity and resilience

Session C
WS10: Embedding resilience into monitoring and management frameworks

Session D
WS11: Novel species in seagrass ecosystems

12:30 PM – 1:30 PM Lunch
1:30 PM – 3:30 PM Sharing session and concluding remarks

WS1: Southeast Asian Seagrass Network

Facilitators: Serina Rahman, Jillian Ooi, Pimchanok Buapet, Siti Maryam Yaakub, Ow Yan Xiang, Samantha Lai, Cheok Zi Yu, Jeffrey Low

This Southeast Asian Seagrass workshop aims to bring together all seagrass researchers working in Southeast Asia to map out common research interests and thematic research gaps. This workshop is the first step towards creating a platform from which we will be able to find opportunities for collaboration and improve communication across Southeast Asia. We will also introduce participants to the new Southeast Asian Seagrass Website, and discuss how it can be enhanced to improve information dissemination. Other useful segments within the workshop include grant proposal writing, science communication and community engagement sessions. The projected outcome of this workshop will be the formation of working groups based on research areas or areas of transdisciplinary collaboration, as well as short term goals and timelines for furthering seagrass research in Southeast Asia. This workshop is targeted at researchers who work in Southeast Asia, and who wish to expand their regional networks with the aim of initiating collaborations. Sign up now to strengthen Southeast Asia’s voice for seagrass research!

Workshop format:
This 1-day workshop will consist of presentations and group discussions. It will also include skill-based mini-workshops on grant proposal writing and science communication and engagement to help build up research capacity within the region. Participants from different countries and research groups will be encouraged to work collaboratively to initiate regional projects with common goals.

WS2: IUCN Seagrass Red Listing Re-evaluation

Facilitators: Fred Short, Brooke Sullivan

IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM is widely recognised as the most comprehensive and objective approach for evaluating the conservation status of plant species. The IUCN Species Survival Commission is specifically tasked with measuring the relative risk of extinction for described species around the world. The IUCN Species Survival Commission has tasked the Seagrass Red List Authority (RLA) Seagrass Specialist Group (SSG) with updating the IUCN Red List status for seagrasses in 2017-2020. Risk assessments are prepared to determine the conservation status for each seagrass species. This is achieved through standardization of assessment methodologies, participation of leading global scientists, and a rigorous review of best available science.

The specific issues for the Seagrass Red List are: what to do about the listings for Zostera vs. Nanozostera and Hetrozostera species; revision of species status for several Halodule species; and discussion of the Red Listing for some Halophila species. In addition to ideas on the Seagrass Red Listing, the SSG will discuss the status of seagrass conservation activities and create an updated list of activities worldwide to submit to IUCN.

Workshop format:
The Expert Assessment for the SSG will commence through an introductory session at WSC led by the SSG Chair, Dr. Fred Short and RLA Coordinator, Brooke Sullivan. They will introduce key topics and methodologies employed by the IUCN to idetify the conservation status of global seagrasses. Following WSC, this workshop will facilitate widespread participation of global seagrass experts in identification and qualification of specific IUCN criteria, including the collection and citation of key biological parameters. The workshop will begin with a brief introduction to the IUCN Red List and Criteria, leading to facilitation of taxonomic focus groups, discussion and identification of key resources and finally review of existing species profiles. The goal of the sessions will be to collate existing data generated by global seagrass experts so that we can effectively reassess and update the current IUCN Red List. Dr Short and Ms Sullivan will oversee the final qualification and collation of data for all seagrass species profiles generated by the workshop participants and use those assessments to establish and update the status of all described species of seagrass world-wide.

WS3: Human dimensions related to seagrasses: adding gender for better management and conservation

Facilitators: Maricela de la Torre-Castro, Sara Fröcklin

During the last 2-3 decades advances have been done regarding increasing the knowledge of people relations with seagrasses (the plant itself and the associated goods and services). Special emphasis has been done to develop the social-ecological systems approach for better seagrass management. The overall objective of the proposed workshop is to advance and tune down the knowledge on gender and seagrasses related to management and conservation. To date, it is well known that both men and women are key actors in seagrass meadows, but there is a paucity in this knowledge and most of it is in anecdotal form. There is a need to map and understand the links between gender and seagrasses in a systematic way.

In this workshop, we want to continue this line of work by addressing three specific dimensions:

  1. Diversity of seagrass resource users with special attention to gender
  2. Conservation measures such as, for example, Blue carbon initiatives and their differential effects on women and men
  3. Inclusive management for better seagrass use and conservation

Workshop format:
The workshop will be open to all participants encouraging that all seagrass bioregions will be represented. Key presenters will introduce the three main points by giving a micro lecture. Questions will be prompted by the presenters and key terms clarified in each heading (e.g. what do we mean by gender, conservation and seagrass management, why gender is important to achieve better management, how can we link the scientific knowledge about gender and diversity to promote better management). After the micro lectures, group work and discussion will take place. Participants will be divided into seagrass bioregions and they will discuss specific questions regarding 1) mapping and analysing resources users, who is doing what and where in the seagrasses in each bioregion; 2) what conservation initiatives are at place and what are the consequences of them?; 3) what ways men and women are affected differently or similarly from those conservation measures?; 4) given the knowledge about gendered actors and differential effects, how can we promote better and inclusive management in each respective bioregion?; 5) what are the difficulties and opportunities that each bioregion has regarding the possibilities to develop/apply inclusive management?

The discussions will be caught in conceptual diagrams for each bioregion capturing the key information for the three main themes, and subsequently shared in an interactive plenary session. In this part, we will try to capture key similarities and differences of each bioregion. We will also put emphasis to extract the key points to promote a positive management change (to actually push for action). We close with concluding words and the performance of a short questionnaire using the cell/mobile phones facilities of each participant.

WS4: Initiating an Indo-Pacific Seagrass Network (IPSN)

Facilitators: Lina Mtwana Nordlund, Johan Eklöf, Benjamin Jones, Richard Unsworth and Leanne Cullen-Unsworth

During this workshop we will launch the Indo-Pacific Seagrass Network (IPSN); a collaborative research network aimed to build capacity, foster knowledge exchange and conduct collaborative research on seagrass biodiversity, ecosystems and their associated fisheries across the Indo-Pacific. We are inviting researchers, practitioners and resource users interested in seagrass and associated fisheries in the Indo-Pacific to this workshop and to join IPSN. Please express your interest to attend by e-mailing:

Seagrasses are diverse and productive ecosystems that constitute important fishing grounds, used by men, women and children, targeting a wide range of species. The IPSN first year’s theme is “seagrass gleaning”: fishing/collecting invertebrates and/or fish with no or very basic gear in water where it is possible to stand.

The structure of the collaborative network (IPSN) is such that data will be shared within the network to allow for larger-scale analysis (cross-site comparison), while each contributing team still owns their data. Each collaborating site is encouraged (and will be supported though the IPSN mentor program) to publish and share its collected data with local and national fisheries and environmental authorities.

Workshop format:
The workshop will consist of two parts: 1) an introduction to IPSN, and 2) discussing, refining and practicing the research protocol for the first year’s data collection to enable replicated data gathering across sites. This one-day workshop will include two health breaks and one lunch break.

WS5: Seagrass Restoration

To be announced.

WS6: Towards an international seagrass science, policy and conservation agenda

Facilitators: Gabriel Grimsditch, Maria Potouroglou

Seagrass meadows are critical to the functioning of healthy and productive coasts around the world, but unfortunately, they are often overlooked and unappreciated. UN Environment in collaboration with GRID-Arendal aims to convene an International Seagrass Working Group in order to enhance scientific knowledge, consolidate management best practices and develop policy recommendations. The International Seagrass Working Group will be posed various challenges for increasing the impact of seagrass scientific knowledge on coastal management or national policy-making.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) is the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system, and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment. GRID-Arendal is a non-profit foundation established by the Norwegian Government to support the United Nations in the field of environmental information management and assessment, capacity-building and communications and outreach, and works to synthesize environmental data into information products accessible to policy-makers and the public.

The International Seagrass Working Group will develop a global synthesis document that will serve as a call to action to managers and decision makers and highlight the range of values of seagrasses to people around the world. More specifically, the report will achieve the following:

  1. provide an overview of global seagrass distribution as well as associated biodiversity, and present the most significant threats and drivers of seagrass loss;
  2. highlight the key ecosystem services and their link to human well-being;
  3. compile the existing knowledge and identify data gaps, where future research efforts should focus in order to gain a full understanding of the status and value of seagrasses both to the marine environment and human wellbeing;
  4. explore the different management options and develop policy recommendations to support seagrass conservation, sustainable management and restoration.
  5. analyze the viability, barriers and potential for seagrass ecosystems to access carbon markets or other payment for ecosystem services schemes.

Workshop format:
This workshop will kick-off with presentations of the main themes of the global synthesis report. Participants will then engage in break-out groups chaired by core members to plan the global synthesis report, their involvement and contribution, future steps and activities. This workshop will take half a day.

WS7: Virtual Reality (VR) for Science Communication

Facilitators: HiverLab

Looking for new and interesting ways to communicate science and research? Find that conventional methods of outreach fail to engage a technology-obsessed generation? Let us show you how to expand your communication toolbox with immersive technology and media. Through our workshop, you will learn to create your own interactive virtual fieldtrips for educational purposes, which can help bridge the gap between academia and the general public.

Our creative content, applications, and proprietary system Storyhive has been widely used for training, education, and virtual tourism regionally and globally. This system has been used to create virtual trails to showcase the beauty of coral reefs to the public at the Sisters’ Islands Marine Park Public Gallery in Singapore, as well as to train volunteers in coral monitoring and identification. We will show you how you can harness this technology to create your very own training and outreach materials.

Workshop format:
This workshop will include both theory and hands-on practical components. We will introduce to you the use of immersive technology and media through several case studies for science exploration, communication and research. We will also cover production tips and storyboarding, and allow participants to try out VR content, our 360 camera and the Storyhive platform. At the end of the workshop, we will provide each organisation with a 1-month Storyhive trial licence.

Maximum class size: 40 pax

WS8: Mapping and analysis of drone imagery

Facilitators: Milica Stankovic, Erickson Lanuza

In the past few decades, there has been increasing use of remote sensing technologies in mapping of the coastal marine habitats. The rapid non-destructive surveys of the habitats can obtain valuable information about the status of the ecosystem and their frequent, continuous use can provide baseline for proper ecosystem management, conservation and restoration. Use of the small unmanned vehicle (sUAV) for obtaining the imagery of the seagrass ecosystems has been used in the past few years, improving the knowledge of the seagrass area size, species, coverage and biomass. With the fast-growing field of remote sensing technologies in marine science, the aim of this workshop is to introduce the mapping techniques of the seagrass ecosystems using drone and to provide basic knowledge of the analysis of the obtained images.

The output of the workshop is to introduce participants to novel technologies and to develop manual for seagrass mapping using drone.

Workshop format:
This workshop will consist of the fieldtrip* and image analysis.

  1. Fieldtrip will involve:
    • introduction to the drone flight plan and flying over the seagrass meadow
    • capturing the images of the ecosystem
    • obtaining ground-truth data
  2. Image analysis will be conducted in the computer room and it will include:
    • introduction to the mapping software
    • stitching the images obtained from the drone
    • habitat classification
    • accuracy assessment

Finally, we will illustrate how participants can present the gathered information and what can be done in the further analysis.

*Low tides during this period occur in the early morning, and the fieldtrip will thus require participants to leave for the trip before dawn (~5AM). Participants are advised to be both mentally prepared and well-equipped with headlamps/torches to work in the earlier hours.

Maximum class size: 25 pax

WS9: Using in situ physiology techniques to better understand seagrass capacity and resilience

Facilitators: John Runcie

Seagrasses are under threat around the world, largely as a result of human activities that lead to reduced water clarity, elevated nutrient concentrations and possibly other forms of contamination (e.g. heavy metals, herbicides, urban and industrial runoff). The consequences of these stressors are reduced depth limits, increased fragmentation of seagrass meadows, reduced growth rates and a general loss of seagrass cover.

While the quantification of seagrass distribution and abundance is a vital part of seagrass assessment, understanding the physical processes that lead to reductions in these metrics is important. This is because these processes can be directly linked with specific stressors. For example, the increase in light attenuation caused by elevated turbidity can be directly linked with a shift in the lower depth limit of a meadow to shallower waters. By understanding how the seagrass responds to light can lead to specific remediative actions, such as conducting dredging operations late in the day, thereby allowing waters to clear overnight and more light to reach the seagrasses the following morning. Scientifically defensible arguments supporting these remediative actions will play a major role in getting the action implemented.

The workshop will produce cases studies for the various physiological methods with real data, images and video footage of each technique. This will be assembled as an online teaching resource and made available to the seagrass community as a reference. A peer reviewed paper could also be prepared for a journal such as American Biological Teacher.

Workshop format:
This workshop aims to provide seagrass researchers with hands-on experience with a number of in situ physiological techniques that have direct relevance to seagrass management. Techniques addressed include:

  • PAM fluorometry: photosynthetic rates, efficiency of light utilisation, capacity to redirect excess light to harmless biochemical pathways, recovery rates/resilience after exposure to high light
  • Metabolic chambers: O2 flux for photosynthesis and respiration
  • Underwater light measurements: estimating water clarity, diel light and annual photon dose calculations

The two-day workshop will consist of a theory session, a fieldtrip* to collect measurements in situ, and data analysis.

*Low tides during this period occur in the early morning, and the fieldtrip will thus require participants to leave for the trip before dawn (~5AM). Participants are advised to be both mentally prepared and well-equipped with headlamps/torches to work in the earlier hours.

Maximum class size: 40 pax

WS10: Embedding resilience into monitoring and management frameworks

Facilitators: Kathryn McMahon, Paul Lavery, Catherine Collier, Kieryn Kilminster

Incorporating resilience into management frameworks is increasingly recognised as critical to halt the degradation of our coastal ecosystems. A framework identifying the important aspects of resilience for seagrass ecosystems has recently been proposed (Unsworth et al 2015). This includes features of a resilient seagrass system such as genetic diversity or continuous habitat, as well as biological (e.g. connectivity) and biophysical (e.g. water quality) features of the supporting ecosystem. Within the seagrass system, the ability of seagrass species to resist or recover from a disturbance varies linked to the different life-history strategies of the species. So the features necessary to understand resilience have been identified but ideas on how to embed this into monitoring programs is still developing. This workshop aims to translate the science of resilience into action by developing a best practice guide to operationalize the concept of resilience into the design of seagrass monitoring and management programs. We welcome scientists involved in resilience research, managers and practitioners actively incorporating or seeking to incorporate resilience concepts into monitoring and management to attend this workshop.

The workshop aims to produce a best practice manual for embedding resilience into seagrass monitoring and management.

Workshop format:

  • Introductory session to summarise background of the concept and identify aspects that should be considered in the best practice guide.
  • Breakout groups will work on different sections and report back such as: Modelling resilience; Scoring resilience (i.e. integrating among indicators of resilience); Environmental conditions and feedbacks; Reproduction (sexual and asexual, seed banks etc); Diversity (genetic and species)
  • Summary information will be provided before the workshop to interested participants.

WS11: Novel species in seagrass ecosystems: a review (of the magnitude, ecology and management)

Facilitators: Fiona Tomas, Adriana Vergés

Biological invasions are one of the main causes of global biodiversity loss, and constitute an increasingly worrying threat to ecosystem function. While humans depend on a few introduced species, many introduced species can impose large economic costs and negative effects on human health. Negative effects of invasive species are particularly apparent in aquatic ecosystems, where many exotic species have successfully established. In addition to the introduction of non-native species, many species are exhibiting spatial range shifts associated with climate change, further contributing to the establishment of novel species, and particularly in marine ecosystems.

Given the ecological and socioeconomic importance of seagrass beds, the management of novel species in these ecosystems is a critical conservation challenge of our century. The most comprehensive review regarding introduced species in seagrass ecosystems is already more than 10 years old. In order to develop adequate management and conservation policies for seagrass ecosystems it is essential that we understand the main patterns and processes that drive the successful establishment of novel species in these ecosystems and that we provide updated and accurate knowledge of the ecological impacts these species are having or may have in this increasingly globalized world undergoing climate change.

In this workshop we aim to bring together experts examining different aspects of novel/introduced species in seagrass ecosystems (e.g. vectors, patterns of spread, impacts, biotic resistance, management) in order to produce an updated, comprehensive, and synthetic review of the existing knowledge regarding novel species on seagrass ecosystems. In addition, we aim to identify major knowledge gaps and address directions for future research and management.

Workshop format:
The workshop will be based on interactive discussion amongst participants and division into smaller groups concentrating on compiling the information on different specific aspects to review. By the end of the workshop, participants will prepare an initial summary of the main findings and of the future division of work in order to finalize the review.

WS12: Plant-animal interactions in seagrass reproduction

Facilitators: Brigitta I. van Tussenbroek, Ricardo Wong

Plant-animal interactions have been understudied for seagrasses; especially at the level of flowering (floral predation) and pollination (pollination by mesofauna). The reason for this maybe that until recent it was thought that seagrasses exclusively were pollinated by water. However, new findings indicate that small crustaceans and polychaetes pollinate flowers of Thalassia testudinum. Thus, flower-animal interactions may be more common than thought and may possibly have influenced the evolution of reproductive structures in seagrasses.

To test this hypothesis, it needs to be established how common flower-animal interactions are for seagrasses. But most geographical areas only have few seagrass species; and a network studying these aspects of reproductive ecology of seagrasses is paramount to establish flower-animal interactions in more seagrass species.

The proposed output for this workshop is a workplan to study flower-animal interactions for different seagrass species in different areas, with the final goal to publish the results with all participants as co-authors.

Workshop format:
The participants of the workshop have an interest in studying the flower-animal interactions for seagrass species in their area. In the workshop, relevant questions and approaches will be discussed, with the ultimate goal to elaborate a workplan.