Panthers present tropical paradise with shifts in macroalgae

Mariana Nava/Staff Writer

Miami’s tropical setting makes it a major tourist destination, but with the increasing adverse effects of climate change, it is an area of growing concern due to the effects of changing ecosystems.

For this reason, the School of Environment, Arts and Society will be hosting Macroalgae: Hidden Colors of the Sea as part of its Speaking Sustainably Series.

On Wednesday, March 19, a talk about the shifting of coral and seagrass dominated community into macroalgae dominated community will take place in order to get the public engaged with this particular environmental issue, and at the same time, encourage them to take a step into marine conservation.

“Marine conservation is an especially important issue for us here in Miami,” said Elaine Pritzker, program manager of SEAS. “We depend on functioning ecosystems to provide for important industries we rely on, such as tourism and fisheries.”

According to Pritzker, the natural environment has been taken for granted, and that has led to careless actions and many abuses to take place.

To raise awareness, the Speaking Sustainably Series aims at inspiring people to take action.

Ligia Collado-Vides, the marine botanist and lecturer-researcher in the department of biological sciences, will discuss the shift in these marine communities in the hopes to raise awareness about the current status of the sea, as well as to share her research. Her research links its results with its applications in marine conservation.

“I am going to make an emphasis on the changes in indicators on tropical ecosystems, such as eutrophication or discharge of nutrients, and how that is going to be affecting the coastal         system,” said Collado-Vides.

Also, Collado-Vides will talk about her lab’s partnership with the Tropical Botanic Artists, with the purpose of showing a unique bio-art exhibit, which according to Elaine Pritzker, blends science and art to engage and inspire the community.

“Coastal ecosystems provide many services to the everyday life,”  said Collado-Vides. “The algae are the most beautiful organisms that can make the connection between the status of those coastal ecosystems and the services they provide.”

This event will take place at Deering Estate at Cutler, 16701 S.W. 72nd Ave. in the Visitor Center Auditorium at 7 p.m. The event will be free and open to the public.

“We hope that the audience is inspired about the wonderful work being conducted by our researchers,” said Pritzker. “We also hope people to return to Deering to see the Tropic Botanic Art exhibit as it  is a wonderful example of how art and science can work together to raise awareness for important issues.”

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