RESTORING UNDERWATER LEAFY HABITATS
andwe also have species and entire habitats that are disappearing,’ says Associate Professor Vergés. ‘For example, 95%of Tasmania’s giant kelp forests have disappeared – and that is because of climate change.’
Associate Professor Adriana Vergés is a marine ecologist and multiple ARC grant recipient, based at The University of NewSouthWales and the Sydney Institute of Marine Science, whose research seeks to reverse the disappearance of the world's seaweed forests, under pressure from human activity and climate change. The winner of the UNSWEmerging Thought Leader Prize in 2019, Professor Vergés is one of the masterminds behind Operation Crayweed , which has restored thriving crayweed forests to the shallowwaters off Sydney. This successful restoration project has had a significant impact on the wider community, both in terms of its environmental effect, but also through the innovative science communication that took place around it at public events, to engage and inspire the local community in the protection of seaweeds. A newer project Operation Posidonia seeks to achieve similar aims, with public engagement and funding to restore the endangered Posidonia australis seagrass to estuaries where it once thrived and phase out the use of the block-and-chain boat moorings which destroy it. Kelp and seagrasses are important for carbon capture and storage. In some regions of Australia, seagrasses can store 20 or 30 times more carbon than rainforests. Kelp and seagrasses also underpin the ecosystems which commercially valuable fisheries, and local tourism industries depend upon. Associate Professor Vergés says that her ultimate goal is to not only restore lost underwater forests and seagrass meadows but to also climate-proof these habitats as much as possible. ‘In the marine environment, we are already seeing the impacts of climate change in a major way. Fishers are now catching species that used to be found inwarmer waters,
A DISCOVERY PROJECT LED BY ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR ADRIANA VERGÉS IS QUANTIFYING THE IMPACTS OF A CHANGING CLIMATE ON KEY ECOSYSTEM FUNCTIONS OF TEMPERATE REEFS THAT UNDERPIN MAJOR ECOSYSTEM SERVICES, SUCH AS THE PROVISION OF FOOD OR RECREATIONAL FISHING.
Associate Professor Adriana Vergés measuring crayweed. Credit: John Turnbull.
UNDERSTANDING THE NATURALWORLD
Made with FlippingBook Converter PDF to HTML5