WSC: Events

Translating Seagrass Science into Action: A Public Talk by the World Seagrass Conference 2018 Plenary Speakers

Venue: Auditorium 2, UTown
Date: 13 June 2018, Wednesday
Time: 1900 – 2100

Dr Alana Grech, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University (Australia)
Dr Peter Ralph, University of Technology Sydney (Australia)
Dr Jillian Ooi, University of Malaya (Malaysia)
Dr Maricela de la Torre Castro, Stockholm University (Sweden)

Dr Siti Maryam Yaakub, DHI Water & Environment (Singapore)

What are seagrasses and why should I care about them? Find out how seagrass research has been translated into conservation actions from our distinguished plenary speakers from the World Seagrass Conference 2018! Each of our speakers are well-respected academics within their field with years of experience and lessons on seagrass research.

The event will consist of 20-minute talks by each of our plenary speakers and a 30-minute moderated Q&A with the audience.

The public can sign-up for this free talk here.

Seagrass taxonomy in an era of genomics—what advances are possible, and what aren’t

Venue: Auditorium 2, UTown
Date: 14 June 2018, Thursday
Time: 1300 – 1400

Michelle Waycott, University of Adelaide, State Herbarium of South Australia (Australia)
Korjent van Dijk, University of Adelaide (Australia)

A fundamental in the biological sciences is that species ‘concepts’ underpin how all derivative works are framed. Should different interpretations of ‘what a species is’ are applied, the outcomes may not be readily comparable, nor may they refer to the same biological entity. For this reason agreement on, or at the very least complete understanding of, species concepts that lead to the basis for taxonomic descriptions is critical. A modern view of species concepts is complex but has at its core a unified concept based on the existence of evolving lineages that are now functioning independently. In this session I will discuss how these are applied in theory, and in practice, and discuss how multiple species concepts can occur simultaneously.

In seagrasses—a biological group comprised of submerged, aquatic, marine flowering plants that share a broad environmental niche and are derived from multiple evolutionary lineages—are polyphyletic. As such they do not all share a single common ancestor, although all seagrasses are monocotyledons and occur within the predominantly aquatic plant order Alismatales. In the order Alismatales, along with the non-seagrass members of this flowering plant order, seagrasses do share many features that are derived from shared ancestors.

Today, there are approximately 70 species of formally recognised ‘seagrasses’ among thirteen genera and six families (yes, this is contentious). However, there are several coincident views on just how many taxonomic groups including species, genera, families and even orders should be recognised. Traditional methods for describing species centre around the morphologically based Linnean approach where a type specimen is representative of the features that define the authors ‘concept’ of a species. Species concepts can vary dramatically, and be equally valid within this approach. Technically, the most recently, correctly published and nomenclaturally valid species concept is the one that applies at any time.

New DNA analysis methods enable us to evaluate current relationships that we see among seagrass lineages. I will discuss what these methods show us, how they can change our ideas about species—how many, where they are found, and how to identify them.

The presenters will lead a discussion on the implications this has to our seagrass biodiversity and encourage everyone to support the development of a unified framework for documenting the biodiversity of these unique plants.

Dredging and port construction near coastal plant habitats by the Permanent International Association of Navigation Congresses

Venue: Auditorium 2, UTown
Date: 14 June 2018, Thursday
Time: 1400 – 1500

Paul Erftemeijer, DAMCO & University of Western Australia (Australia)
Jasper Dijkstra, Deltares Marine and Coastal Systems (Netherlands)

Matt Jury, DHI Singapore (Singapore)
Björn Gäbe, Wassertraßen- und Schifffahrtsverwaltung des Bundes (Germany)
Jose Juanes, Barbara Ondiviela, Araceli Puente, IH Cantabria (Spain)
Safra Altman, Tim Whelp, Deborah Shafer, US Army Corps of Engineers (USA)
Daniel Legett, DLEnviro (United Kingdom)

Marine and intertidal (coastal) plant habitats, such as seagrass beds, mangroves, saltmarshes and attached seaweed communities provide a huge range of ecosystem services, including protection of shorelines from storm surges and waves, prevention of coastal erosion, sequestering of carbon, climate regulation, sustaining fisheries production, supporting coastal livelihoods and providing a bio-geophysical framework for navigation. Dredging, port- and waterway construction in the vicinity of these coastal plant habitats may have adverse impacts on these environments and their functions. A good understanding of the involved processes is required to improve the planning and management of construction activities to avoid or compensate environmental impacts.

An international PIANC (Permanent International Association of Navigation Congresses) working group composed of experienced engineers and ecologists alike has drafted a guideline on this topic, meant to inform contractors, authorities and NGO’s on relevant processes, frameworks and mitigation options, which can support them in choosing the best solutions. This guideline comprises a review of existing literature on impacts and dredging techniques as well as lessons learnt from dredging and construction near coastal plant habitats. Methods and techniques for the management of dredging and port construction around coastal plant habitats are presented and discussed with a view to derive best management practice guidelines to avoid or minimize impacts on these valuable habitats.

The majority of people attending this conference have had or will need to deal with anthropogenic effects on seagrass beds. Therefore, the aim of this mini session is twofold: Firstly, to raise interest for this guideline among a public of potential users. Secondly, to hear from experts whether this guideline is considered useful and what could be improved to make it better; as the document is in its first draft, comments are appreciated.