World Seagrass Conference & International Seagrass Biology Workshop
WSC2022 & ISBW14
Signs of Success    Annapolis, MD   7 - 12 August, 2022

Pre-event Seminar Series

Since we weren't able to hold our event in 2020, and because August 2022 is still a long way away, the ISBW and WSC steering committee is working with the World Seagrass Association to present the World Seagrass Association Seagrass Seminar Series. Every other month between March 2021 and August 2022, we will offer a unique, seagrass-oriented seminar covering topics like global seagrass monitoring, communities of practice, citizen science and communication, DEIJ, and seagrass advocacy and awareness.

This seminar series will feature talks and panel discussions from experts around the world, so times will vary and hopefully everyone will be able to catch at least one or two seminars "live". If you miss one, every seminar in the series will be recorded and available to view on this website as well as the WSA website.

As planning progresses, speakers will be announced here, via email, and on social media. If you'd like to be added to our email list, please let us know at

To register your intent to participate, click the "Register" button below the speaker. Once registered, you will receive an email with the information on how to login.

Aurora Ricart, PhD & Yan Xiang Ow, PhD

Aurora Ricart, PhD & Yan Xiang Ow, PhD

Ocean Acidification and the Role of Seagrasses in Mitigation

19 May 2021; Zoom

9:00 AM Singapore Standard Time

This seminar will include two talks followed by a moderated Q&A with the speaker panel.

The first talk will be given by Dr. Aurora Ricart, and is titled: Can seagrasses turn back the clock on ocean acidification?

Abstract: The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is essential to slow down the velocity of climate change. Likewise, the complementary implementation of other mitigation and adaptation strategies is equally important to increase environmental, social, and economic resilience. In the ocean, one strategy is to focus conservation and management actions on foundation species of marine macrophytes, such as seagrass meadows. First, the capacity of these systems to sequester carbon in the sediments (blue carbon) makes them carbon sinks at global scales. Second, the capacity of these systems to increase local mean pH by removing CO2 from seawater through net photosynthetic activity makes them important habitats to consider as ocean acidification (OA) refugia. However, photosynthesis and respiration cycles in seagrass ecosystems in combination with multiple biogeochemical and physical processes that occur in coastal areas, often create marked fluctuations in pH that lead to uncertainty regarding the generality of potential seagrass-pH benefits. Therefore, while their carbon sink capacity is widely recognized, the capacity of marine macrophytes to effectively buffer OA is still an open question. In this talk, Dr. Ricart will review past, current and future work on the capacity of seagrass ecosystems to alleviate low pH conditions and discuss the implications for the conservation and management of coastal ecosystems.

The second talk will be given by Dr. Yan Xiang Ow, and is titled: Can seagrass be the winner in ocean acidification?

Abstract: Ocean acidification (OA), as a result of increased carbon dioxide dissolved in seawater, can enable seagrass productivity to increase. However, productivity responses to increasing pCO2 might be subjected to other environmental factors that influence metabolic processes, such as water temperature and local water quality. Investigations into whether seagrass can be true “winners” in OA is necessary, as primary productivity governs many key seagrass ecosystem functions such as carbon sequestration and pH buffering – services that could contribute to the impetus to conserve and restore seagrass beds in this current climate. In this talk, Dr. Ow will discuss her work on the physiological responses of seagrass to OA and other key environmental parameters. Her findings also highlight some potential caveats on generalizing seagrass response to OA and their capacity to mitigate low pH conditions for downstream organisms.

Speaker Bios:

Dr. Aurora M Ricart is currently a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences and at the Bodega Marine Laboratory - University of California, Davis, USA. She is a marine ecologist studying global change in coastal marine ecosystems. Her research addresses questions in four main areas: Seascape ecology, Community ecology, Ecosystems resilience, Coastal carbon cycling. Her general approach consists of developing studies in field and lab settings to investigate (1) impacts of climate change, environmental change, and human action in foundation species of marine macrophytes (seagrasses and seaweeds), and (2) the potential of these vegetated ecosystems to combat climate change effects through carbon sequestration. Towards that purpose, Aurora draws on techniques that span ecology, ecophysiology, biogeochemistry, and oceanography. Aurora received her B.Sc from the University of Valencia (Spain), and a M.Sc and Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of Barcelona (Spain). She has worked in seagrass ecosystems in different tropical and temperate regions around the world including the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic oceans. During all her career Aurora has also been extensively involved in monitoring programs and seagrass habitat mapping projects. Her work on seagrasses has been featured in Reuters, Forbes, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and Scientific American among other media.

Email: ,


Social Media: Skype: Aurora M Ricart || Twitter: @Ricart_Aurora_M

Dr. Yan Xiang (“YX”) Ow is a Research Fellow with St John Island National Marine Laboratory and Tropical Marine Science Institute, National University of Singapore. YX completed her B.Sc education in the National University of Singapore, and her Ph.D. in James Cook University (Australia). Her research interest lies in examining how marine phototrophs, specifically seagrasses and corals, respond and adapt to changes to their environment due to climate change and water quality. Because marine phototrophs can feedback to their environment, their potential to mitigate negative environmental change is also of great interest. YX typically dwells amongst aquaria tanks in marine laboratories, tinkering with controls to manipulate the living conditions for her experimental organisms. In short, she kills seagrass for science. With her findings, she builds on the expertise of her fellow colleagues – ecologists, modelers, environmental managers, science communicators etc – to translate her experimental research into actionable items.



A recording of this presentation is available on the ISBW14 YouTube channel here:

Jonathan Lefcheck, PhD

Jonathan Lefcheck, PhD

Towards a global seagrass monitoring network: The past, present and future of collaboration

31 March 2021; Zoom

12:00 - 1:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Seminar Abstract: Global recognition of the importance of seagrass is higher than ever before, as evidenced by the increasing rate of scientific publications on the topic. Seagrass research has also recently been featured in numerous international periodicals and summarized in a UN Environmental Programme report. Importantly, this valuable and irreplaceable habitat has become the cornerstone of many local, regional, national, and international efforts to improve coastal sustainability and mitigate climate impacts. As a result, there has never been a more important or socially relevant time to monitor, understand, map, and share information related to seagrasses. This talk will review the past, present, and future of global seagrass research. It will begin by highlighting existing long-term monitoring programs and focus on the insights gained from over 100,000 SeagrassNet observations collected from 35 countries over the past twenty years. The talk will then go on to discuss mapping and monitoring programs from areas around the world, including the Indo-West Pacific, Asia, Australia, and North America. Recent efforts to synthesize the status and trends of seagrasses will be reviewed and emerging platforms to define and disseminate best practices centered around the Global Ocean Observing System’s “Essential Ocean Variables” will be discussed. Finally, the open and inclusive future of collaborative global research will be highlighted and participants will learn how they too can contribute to the next generation of seagrass science.

Speaker Bio: Dr. Jonathan Lefcheck is currently the Tennenbaum Coordinating Scientist for the MarineGEO Network at the Smithsonian Institution and is based at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, MD, USA. He is a marine community ecologist and biodiversity scientist who has worked on a variety of coastal ecosystems from oyster and coral reefs to salt marshes, kelp forests, and deep-sea hydrothermal vents, but has a deep and enduring love for seagrasses. He also develops novel statistical tools to help understand natural systems, particularly the growing technique of “structural equation modeling.” He is currently focused on coordinating global seagrass monitoring and synthesis through MarineGEO and SeagrassNet.

Jon received his B.A. from Colby College in 2009 and his Ph.D. from the College of William and Mary in 2015, and has conducted post-doctoral research at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences. His work on seagrasses has been featured in the New York Times, The Washington Post, Smithsonian Magazine, Hakai Magazine, and on National Public Radio.

A recording of this presentation is available on the ISBW14 YouTube channel here: