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Structure and functioning of macrobenthic communities in permeable subtidal sediments

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  • Universiteit Gent; Faculteit Wetenschappen; Vakgroep Biologie; Onderzoeksgroep Mariene Biologie (MARBIOL), more

Coarse sandy sediments are important features in the marine ecosystem as they occupy up to 70% of the surface of the coastal seas worldwide. Transport of fluids is possible through the upper 30cm of the sediment, and therefore they are often referred to as permeable sediments. Little is known about the processes and interactions between permeable sediments and the macrobenthic communities (organisms inhabiting the seafloor, > 1mm). Therefore, this study aims at gaining more insight in the biological processes and the ecology of permeable sediments of a shallow subtidal area. Spatial and temporal macrobenthic stabilities will be analysed and biological processes will be investigated in natural and altered circumstances (modified sediment composition and enhanced organic matter input nearby wind turbines). Macrobenthic densities, diversities and functional group composition will be investigated, whilst biological markers (stable isotopes carbon and nitrogen, and fatty acids) will be analysed from tissue, water and sediment samples to provide additional information on food sources and the feeding ecology of macrobenthos. Subsequently, laboratory experiments will focus on the effect of changing macrofauna properties on the ecosystem functioning (organic matter mineralisation).

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