04 Oct 2023

Welcome to the inaugural edition of our EuroMarine Researchers in the Spotlight series, where we engage in captivating conversations with prominent researchers within our network.

The topic "Blue Carbon" is gaining ever more attention. We sat down with Vasilis Dakos, CNRS researcher on tipping points at the Institute of Evolution, University of Montpellier in France. He led the BlueTipS workshop - From sink to source: Tipping points of blue carbon storage in Mediterranean seagrass ecosystems and we talked to him about his experience as a Foresight Workshop lead for EuroMarine.

BlueTipS - From sink to source: Tipping points of blue carbon storage in Mediterranean seagrass ecosystems.

The workshop aimed to connect theoretical insights into ecosystem tipping responses to stress with the dynamics of carbon sequestration and release in coastal Mediterranean seagrass ecosystems.

Its objectives included integrating a tipping point perspective in seagrass ecosystem functioning, developing modelling frameworks for seagrass ecosystems, and designing field experiments to assess the risk of collapse in seagrass meadows.

The expected outcomes included a perspective paper, project proposals, and networking opportunities for student and researcher exchange.


Vasilis is interested in ecological stability, tipping points, and the effects of eco-evolutionary feedback on ecosystem resilience under global change.

He develops and tests indicators for resilience (or early-warning signals) for critical transitions in complex systems, like ecological networks and socio-ecological systems.

EuroMarine: Could you briefly introduce the research topic that your Foresight Workshop focused on and describe its significance in the field of marine science?

The goal of our Foresight Workshop was to facilitate collaboration between experts in tipping point dynamics and those in seagrass ecology. Specifically, we aimed to connect theoretical insights regarding ecosystem tipping responses to stress with the dynamics of carbon sequestration and release in coastal Mediterranean seagrass ecosystems, focusing on Posidonia oceanica meadows.

This endeavour aimed to provide a methodological framework for the conservation and management of seagrass ecosystems using the principles of tipping point science. Ultimately, our goal was to optimize blue carbon storage in the Mediterranean region. Notably, there has been a scarcity of work on mechanistic models of carbon dynamics in seagrass meadows, and our workshop was designed to address this research gap.

EuroMarine: How did the Foresight Workshop contribute to the evolution and advancement of your research topic? Did it help identify new directions, methodologies, or emerging issues that were previously overlooked?

The workshop indeed made significant contributions to our research topic. Firstly, it fostered the creation of a network consisting of both modellers and empiricists, which did not exist before. Secondly, it led to a lasting collaboration, currently taking the form of supervising a Ph.D. student.

EuroMarine: What were the main outcomes or key findings that emerged from your Foresight Workshop? How did these outcomes shape your research trajectory or provide new insights into the topic?

One of the primary outcomes was the development of a modelling perspective and an actual model that describes interactions between seagrass meadows and the carbon they store.

For me personally, this has now become one of my principal research areas, with both a master's thesis and an ongoing Ph.D. project focusing on this theme.

EuroMarine: Did your Foresight Workshop lead to any follow-up actions or collaborations? Have you applied for additional funding to further develop your research? If yes, could you describe the subsequent projects or initiatives that resulted from the workshop?

Yes, following the workshop, we applied for a BIODIVERSA call in 2018. Although our proposal made it past the initial round, it unfortunately did not make it to the final list of selected projects.

EuroMarine: Have you published a peer-reviewed article, or any other form of scientific publication based on the research discussed in the Foresight Workshop? If so, could you provide some details about the publication and its impact on the field?

We are currently in the process of submitting a perspective paper, as we had planned during the workshop, to the journal "Frontiers in Plant Sciences."

EuroMarine: Have you presented your research findings to policymakers or other stakeholders in the marine science community? If yes, how did the Foresight Workshop contribute to the development of your research into actionable insights for policy or decision-making?

Not at this stage. Our intention is to present the findings from our ongoing publication and the work of the Ph.D. student at relevant venues. One of our planned presentations is at the World Seagrass Conference in 2024.

EuroMarine: Looking back, how would you assess the overall impact of the Foresight Workshop on your research and career? Did it open up new opportunities, enhance your visibility, or lead to further collaborations beyond the initial workshop?

I can confidently say that the Foresight Workshop had a positive impact on my research and career. It initiated a long-term collaboration and opened doors to new research avenues and opportunities.

EuroMarine: What advice or suggestions would you give to future Foresight Workshop leads in terms of maximizing the benefits and outcomes of the workshop?

I would recommend future Foresight Workshop leads to focus on small-scale projects with clear responsibilities. This approach can help maximize the effectiveness of the workshop and its potential to yield valuable outcomes.