Ecologist’s Diary: In the field for the TeaComposition H2O Initiative 2


The TeaComposition H2O initiative aims to understand long-term aquatic decomposition and carbon cycling in seagrass meadows, mangrove forests, tidal marshes, all types of freshwater wetlands as well as lakes, ponds and streams. I’d like to share a little bit this diversity with some photos we have received so far.

This first photos come from teams in Finland and Portugal who need to SCUBA dive to bury and retrieve the tea in seagrass and seaweed meadows. These sites are likely one of the more challenging sites due to the time and equipment costs needed to bury dozens of tea into the sediments. There is the added challenge to mark the tea site well enough to find it again without attracting well-intentioned fisherpeople wanting to clean up their ocean.

Shallower or intertidal sites like these in Spain and the US have fewer logistical challenges, but it is still important to carefully mark each bag since the tea bags are very difficult to see when covered in mud. It will be interesting to see over the next couple of years if the resident bioturbator invertebrates like crabs and worms show an interest in the tea.


There are other wetlands that are a bit drier and have taller vegetation to make the plots less conspicuous. While these wetlands look like prime snake territory, we haven’t heard of any complaints so far. What will be interesting in comparing these wetlands is the variation in decay we see between freshwater and saltwater conditions with variable inundation cycles.


In using household tea as pseudo-plant litter for this initiative, we can standardised the starting material across the globe. This design gives us the power to tease apart the larger-scale drivers that influence decomposition, like climate, inundation and habitat type. Now that the TeaComposition H2O teams have worked hard to get their tea in, we now have a two- to three-year waiting game ahead of us!

Until next time!

Stacey Trevathan-Tackett
Stacey Trevathan-Tackett Blue Carbon Lab, Melbourne, Australia

Read more Ecologist’s Diary or more posts by Stacey.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s