Australasian Society for Phycology and Aquatic Botany (ASPAB) 2016 – Plenary presentations open to CIE members via VMP


To all CIE members – We are hosting the 2016 Australasian Society for Phycology and Aquatic Botany (ASPAB) conference in Warrnambool next week and we would like to open the plenary presentations to the CIE membership by VMP. Both presentations will be held in the following rooms on each campus with the designated VMP.

  • Warrnambool: B3.03
  • Waurn Ponds: ka4.207-green room
  • Burwood: LT 4 (B3.05) (Thursday only – apologies, no room avail on Wed)
  • VMP: VMP SEBE LES 36991 (if dialing externally call 5223-6991)

There are plenary presentations on Wednesday and Thursday mornings as follows:


By: Dr Adriana Vergés, UNSW
What: Underwater forests in temperate seas: climate-mediated threats and restoration solutions
When: 9.00-10.00am, Wednesday, 9th November

Abstract: Seaweeds forests are the biological engines of shallow temperate reefs worldwide. They are among the most productive ecosystems on earth and support other important ecosystem services such as fisheries production. Pollution and climate change, however, are severely impacting temperate seaweed forests globally. In particular, ocean warming is causing the tropicalisation of temperate reefs and leading to the loss of seaweed forests, which are being replaced by turf and/or coral-dominated systems.

Here, I will discuss some of the mechanisms that may facilitate tropicalisation and I will highlight the specific role of herbivory in mediating kelp loss in eastern Australia. In addition to climate change, increased nutrients, urbanisation and pollution can also lead to widespread seaweed loss.

In the second part of my talk I will focus on the loss and subsequent restoration of the fucoid Phyllospora comosa (crayweed) along the highly urbanised coastline of Sydney. Biodiversity assessments showed that crayweed is functionally unique and supports a distinct ecological community when compared to other dominant seaweeds, thus motivating the need for restoration of this species.

Our research has shown that transplanted crayweed onto Sydney’s reefs generally survives, grows and reproduces similarly to crayweed in reference populations. Further, in some restored locations, crayweed populations are beginning to self-sustain and already support unique epifauna communities.

To conclude, I will present the community engagement and outreach work that has accompanied the restoration of crayweed in Sydney, including a successful crowdfunding campaign, the establishment of a citizen-science project and an exciting art-meets-science installation.

Biography: Dr Adriana Vergés leads a research group within the Centre for Marine Bio-Innovation at UNSW Australia. She is particularly interested in the ecological impacts of climate change and the conservation of the world’s algal forests and seagrass meadows, which are increasingly under threat. She has worked in tropical coral reefs and temperate ecosystems from around the world (Mediterranean Sea, Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans) and much of her research is experimental and takes place underwater.

She is passionate about communicating science to the wider public, especially through films, art and new media. Adriana originally hails from Barcelona (Spain), where she obtained her PhD in Ecology at the University of Barcelona (2007). She also holds an MSc in Science Communication (1999) from Dublin City University (Ireland) and a BSc (Hons) in Marine Science (1998) from the National University of Ireland (Galway).


annette-bruhnBy: Dr Annette Bruhn, Aarhus University, Denmark
What: Production of seaweeds for food, feed, biomolecules and circular nutrient management – a European perspective
When: 9.00-10.00am, Thursday, 10th November

Abstract: The interest in seaweed production has exploded in Europe over the last decade. A major driver, in line with the Blue Growth Strategy of the European Commission, is the production of a new sustainable biomass for energy, food, feed and biomolecules. Another strong driver is the need for circular nutrient management from marine and terrestrial sources to prevent and mitigate coastal eutrophication.

The major challenge for the profitable production of European seaweeds is the high cost of labour, forcing the development of technology and innovation throughout the process chain from seaweed production through to biorefinery concept of multiple products from a single biomass resource.

Cultivation is focused on a few species, primarily kelps, and commercial scale kelp farms are emerging in the North Atlantic, as part of integrated aquaculture systems or as single crop farms. Harvest yields of up to 21 kg fresh seaweed per meter of seeded line have been achieved. Importantly, the yields of kelps are increasing – through improved crop management, improved strains, innovative substrates, and mechanised seeding, deployment and harvesting processes. This has simultaneously furthered the cultivation of kelp as an active tool in coastal management. Other species in production are Palmaria palmata, Furcellaria lumbricalis, Ulva sp. and Gracilaria sp. – the latter two mainly in land-based systems.

The major markets are presently as whole biomass in the food, food ingredient and cosmetics industries. However, biorefinery processes are emerging from co-operative trans-European science-industrial research programs to broaden the application of seaweed biomass into nutraceuticals, biomaterials and energy markets.

Biography: Annette Bruhn (AB) works as a research scientist at the Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, Denmark. Since finishing her PhD in biological oceanography in 2008, AB has been working with production of macroalgae in the cross-field between fundamental and applied science.

Her primary research focus is to optimize macroalgae cultivation to serve as an instrument for bioremediation of eutrophic coastal waters and wastewater streams, while at the same time producing a tailored biomass for food, feed, fertilizer and high value products.

AB is strongly engaged in science-industrial co-operations and participates in several international and national research projects, as well as in the national marine monitoring program. In 2010, she was one of the founders of AlgaeCenter Denmark, a Danish national platform for science-industrial research, development and dissemination within the production and applications of macroalgae.

Looking forward to your participation!