The impact of environmental changes on the ecosystems of seagrass and macroalgae in the tropics is at the centre of a new research project at the Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology (ZMT). Funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) with more than 400,000 Euro the SEAMAC* project runs for three years and is led by Dr. Mirta Teichberg, head of the junior research group “Algae and Seagrass Ecology” at the ZMT.
In shallow water ecosystems tropical seagrasses and macroalgae are an important first link in the food chain and provide a number of significant services not only to the organisms living in these environments but also to humans and other connected ecosystems such as mangroves or coral reefs.
Aside from offering shoreline protection from erosion and storms, seagrasses and macroalgae provide habitat for many fish and invertebrates. They also play an important role in mitigating climate change. As so-called carbon sinks they take up CO2 and remove it from the atmosphere.
However, these coastal ecosystems are currently facing a significant threat from eutrophication caused by wastewater or residue from aquaculture as well as from urbanisation and deforestation which increases run-off of nutrients and sediments to the coastal zone.
“On a global scale seagrasses are lost at an estimated 7 % per year. These figures already date back seven years so the loss has most likely increased since then“ says project coordinator Dr. Teichberg.
The marine biologist is focusing her research on regions in the Indo-Pacific and the tropical Atlantic. “Although the tropics host the largest number of seagrass species there is not that much known about how these ecosystems function and how they will cope with anthropogenic impact and environmental changes,” she explains.
The first expedition in September will lead the researcher to Zanzibar (Tanzania) where she has already done some work on seagrass ecosystems as part of a previous project with the Institute of Marine Science. In the second year of the project the scientist will head to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Bocas del Toro, Panama to do further field studies and eventually be able to compare the seagrasses in two very different tropical regions.
“The first step is to examine the seagrass communities under varying environmental conditions at the sites and identify potential drivers of community change. In the second stage we will be linking the traits of the organisms and the communities to different environmental conditions.”
When investigating the traits of seagrasses and macroalgae Dr. Teichberg will be examining a series of different plant morphological characteristics such as leaf structure and size, physiological traits such as rates of growth, photosynthesis, nutrient and carbon uptake , and biochemical traits linked to light absorption and defense against grazing or disease. In the future there are also plans to use the generated data for a trait-based model to predict the impact of environmental change on these ecosystems.
Summing up her motivation behind the research Dr. Teichberg says: “Essentially, we are interested to find out how organisms function in their environment, to understand their role in the ecosystem, and how environmental change will impact them in the future.”
Andrea Daschner | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Changing the Energy Landscape: Affordable Electricity for All
20.10.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Solare Energiesysteme ISE
Emmy Noether junior research group investigates new magnetic structures for spintronics applications
11.10.2016 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
21.10.2016 | Information Technology
21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences