Misty morning at the York River site

British Columbia

Herons on eelgrass bed at low tide


The predatory fish Labrus berggylta in eelgrass at Gullmar Fjord


Eelgrass, Batture aux Outardes


Bald eagle over eelgrass bed, Kachemak Bay

North Carolina

Middle Marsh


Eelgrass fouled with filamentous red algae

Welcome to ZEN

ZEN is a collaborative partnership among ecologists throughout the northern hemisphere conducting coordinated research in beds of eelgrass (Zostera marina) to tackle big questions about how biodiversity, climate change, and natural variability across the globe influence ecosystem structure and functioning. ZEN’s primary funding comes from the National Science Foundation, but benefits from in-kind support from partner institutions throughout the world. Continue Reading

New paper in Ecology Letters!

The cross-site ZEN experiment from 2011 is in press at Ecology Letters!ZEN  The first paper from our cross-cite experiment program is now published online at Ecology Letters! Our results link global and local evidence that biodiversity and top–down control strongly influence functioning of threatened seagrass ecosystems, and suggest that biodiversity is comparably important to global change stressors. See the press release and photos on our blog.

ZEN Blog

ZEN is committed to doing and communitcating our science. Our blog is where our team members post the latest updates on research activities, results, interesting natural history observations, and other ruminations. For fun, watch the video from the 2011-2012 field seasons, above, then head over to our blog to read entries about the ongoing research from the ZEN partners and their students.

Undergraduate Education

ZEN_Class_UCD_2014_SpringA novel component of the second generation of ZEN includes a formal integration of undergraduate education and involvement in the ZEN program. In spring 2014, we launched a coordinated upper division undergraduate Seagrass Ecosystem Ecology course at each of the three core ZEN sites: College of William & Mary, San Diego State University, and the University of California, Davis. The course focused on ecological theory and hands on training in marine ecology.  

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Research Network

ZEN conferenceZEN includes partners from seven US states and sixteen countries — Japan, South Korea, Canada, USA, Mexico, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Croatia, Ukraine, the Netherlands, Russia, France, Ireland, Wales, and Portugal. Partners include professors, postdoctoral researchers, graduate students, undergrads, and scientific staff. Our group’s expertise encompasses experimental ecology, population genetics, taxonomy, systematics, and quantitative analytical methods.

Why Seagrass?

Japan_southern_predators_survey_909_high Seagrass beds are highly productive habitats, and provide structure and food for dense and diverse communities of animals. Seagrasses stabilize sediment, buffer coastlines, and improve water clarity, nutrient cycling and production. In many areas of the world eelgrass and other seagrasses serve as nursery habitats for juvenile fishes and shellfish, thus providing essential habitat for fisheries.

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Welcome to the Zostera Experimental Network