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Ecofunctional biodiversity of benthic crustacean taxocoenoses in the Southern Ocean

More:  Institutes 
Parent project: Research action SPSD-I: Sustainable management of the North Sea, more
Reference no: A4/DD/B02
Period: December 1996 till November 2000
Status: Completed

Thesaurus terms: Benthos; Biodiversity; Coastal waters
Taxonomic term: Amphipoda [WoRMS]
Geographical term: PS, Southern Ocean [Marine Regions]

Institutes (2)  Top 
  • Koninklijk Belgisch Instituut voor Natuurwetenschappen; Operationele Directie Taxonomie en Fylogenie; Afdeling Recente Invertebraten, more
  • Belgian Science Policy (BELSPO), more, sponsor

Description and evaluation of the role of the biodiversity of the macrobenthos, in particular of the peracarid crustaceans, in the structure and functioning of the Antarctic coastal ecosystem and the continental shelf. In the Southern Ocean, the peracarid crustaceans constitute the macrobenthic group with the most types and probably with the greatest diversity in terms of the number of habitats, trophic types and size spectrum. The ecosystem under study is acknowledged to be the most complex, the most productive and probably the most sensitive to the consequences of global environmental changes.


1) Characterisation of the structural aspects of the biodiversity (specific abundance, distribution, bio-ecological features) of the peracarid crustaceans, in particular of the amphipods, in the benthic communities of the "Antarctic Sea-Ice Zone", as well as their variability in space and time.

2) Establishment of a reference center for the biodiversity of Antarctic amphipods, bringing together specialised databases, validated reference collections and a network of contributing specialists. On this basis, development of new synthetic tools to describe the biodiversity of the amphipods of the Southern Ocean.

3) Assessment of the ecofunctional role of the crustacean taxocoenoses in the benthic ecosystem of the "Antarctic Sea-Ice Zone". In particular, evaluation of the importance of the biodiversity in the production, by studying the various trophodynamic roles and the significance of the gigantism of the amphipods in two reference benthic communities.

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