Dr. James Fourqurean: Saving seagrass to save the planet

Dr. James Fourqurean, the Director of FIU’s Center for Coastal Oceans Research and member of the International Blue Carbon Initiative, a global program that focuses on mitigating climate change through conservation and restoration of marine ecosystems engaged the Keys community at the Ocean Life Lecture Series on Thursday, February 21st.

The monthly lecture series, held at the Murray Nelson Government Center in Key Largo, brings in FIU researchers to discuss topics relevant to Florida Keys ecology. His talk, titled, “Saving Seagrass to save the planet: Blue Carbon and seagrass ecosystems” shed light on the important role seagrasses play in the storage of carbon.

Dr. Fourqurean’s talk began with an in-depth explanation on the science behind climate change and the impacts it has on ecosystems in the Florida Keys. While many people understand the role that forests play in the storage of carbon, people often overlook the role the marine ecosystems play in “blue” carbon storage. Sea grass meadows store carbon more efficiently than almost any other ecosystem in the world. The Florida Keys, being home to the world’s largest monitored seagrass area, is an area of critical importance to blue carbon storage in the southeastern United States. Dr. Fourqurean’s talk concluded with a call to action in which he shared ways that the community can become stewards for seagrass meadows, including supporting efforts to restore intact food webs, so there is a healthy population of predators in seagrass meadows who can help to control herbivory.

The next Ocean Life Lecture will be on March 28, 2019 with Dr. John Berry who plans to discuss how fish can be used as a model system to explore algal toxins in Florida Waters.