A 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.
ZEN 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.
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.