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The role of native and/or invasive ecosystem engineers in explaining biodiversity

More:
Parent project: Marine Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning - EU Network of Excellence, more
Period: April 2005 till December 2008
Status: Completed

Abstract:
Objectives
The objective of our RMP is to compare the relative importance of ecosystem engineering for biodiversity and stability across different types of native and/or invasive ecosystem engineers (e.g., coral reefs, seagrass meadows, bivalve beds, algae meadows, salt marshes, etc.), going from:

1) shallow (intertidal) areas towards deeper water
2) cooler Northern latitudes to warmer Southern latitudes and in some cases even tropical areas. Across these spatial scales we want to establish:

A. the importance of ecosystem engineering for biodiversity by comparing species occurrence patterns in plots with and without the dominant (invasive) ecosystem engineer. The data will be used to derive assembly rules, showing facilitation and/or inhibition.
B. the relative importance of the 2 main mechanisms: (1) modification of the physical and/or chemical environment versus (2) enhancing the structural complexity of the system. This will be achieved by comparing the biodiversity effect of native and/or invasive ecosystem engineers that strongly vary in this respect.
C. the consequences of ecosystem engineering for ecosystem functioning and ecosystem stability, e.g., by using a (conceptual) modelling approach.

Description of work
Task1 Address objective A: inventory and analysis of assembly rules in the presence of different ecosystem engineers
1a make an inventory of available databases, ongoing descriptive studies and ongoing experimental studies (field and lab experiments) that are relevant to this RMP.
1b arrange a workshop to present and discuss the results of the inventory of available databases, and select those that are relevant to address objective A; integration of data based on ecosystem engineer type, habitat type, etc.
1c - analyse the database and write reports (in the form of manuscripts for scientific papers) on objective A. These reports will attain different levels of integration. That is, some will be more focussed on describing new databases that have just become available, whereas others will focus more on integration of the various databases towards identifying assembly rules. In all aspects, the participants will aim for collaborative papers.

Task2 Address objective B: analysis of underlying mechanisms and processes with a focus on the observed similarities and/or differences between differerent types of ecosystem engineers
2a arrange a workshop to asses the suitability of the available databases to address objective B, and to identify the need for experiments
2b if needed, initiate most urgent collaborative experiments
2c write reports (in the form of manuscripts for scientific papers) on objective B. These reports, will attain different levels of integration. That is, some will address gaps on important ecosystem engineering mechanisms, whereas others will focus more on integration of the various databases. In all aspects, the participants will aim for collaborative papers.

Task3 Address objective C: integrative view of the overall net effect of ecosystem engineers on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning using a (conceptual) modelling approach
3a arrange a workshop to asses the suitability of the databases to address objective C
3b use available database to write reports (in the form of manuscripts for scientific papers) on objective C.

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