The 42nd annual Benthic Ecology Meeting (BEM) will be held in Savannah, Georgia at the Hyatt Regency from March 20-23. BEM is one of the largest scientific gatherings for marine biologists in the USA. The scientific meeting is a non profit organization whose mission is to promote research, support the exchange of information, and foster the next generation of benthic ecologists through student participation.
Benthic ecology refers to the study of the plants and animals that live on or within the sea floor and their interrelationships with their environment. Benthic habitats include soft sediments, hard bottom, coral reefs and seagrasses among others. These marine systems are important not only because they provide a home for plant and animals but also are essential in the marine food web and in the cycling of nutrients in the marine environment.
The meeting will be hosted by Georgia Southern University and Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary. Approximately 600 registrants from around the United States and the world are expected including some of the brightest undergraduate and graduate students who will be presenting their research. “Participants are from all 3 U.S. coastlines and at least 14 other countries and the U.S Virgin Islands”, said Dr. Daniel Gleason, event organizer and Professor of Biology at Georgia Southern University.
The four day event will kick off with a social Wednesday evening. Scientific presentations follow Thursday through Saturday. Poster sessions will be held Thursday evening and a film festival Friday evening. The grand finale of the event will be a banquet on Saturday evening.
Gleason notes that nearly 500 oral and poster presentations are expected. Some of the session topics include habitat restoration, coral reef ecology, larval ecology and invasive species. The highlights of some of the research include the effects of ocean acidification, long term effects of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and the restoration of oyster reefs and seagrasses.
The goal of the Beneath the Waves Film Festival is to facilitate widespread science communication by bringing together marine films from around the world for open discussion, while also providing hands-on educational opportunities for researchers interested in film and media outreach.
Gleason is looking forward to a successful meeting. “Participants are coming from as far away as Australia, Brazil, and France”, he said. “The response to the meeting has been excellent so more registrants are always welcome”.
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