understanding benthic, pelagic and air-borne ecosystem interactions in shallow coastal seas


While designing the layout of the scientific programme of the WestBanks project, participants realised that WestBanks, if funded, would be the third network in which they would be cooperating. Indeed, since the start of the Belspo programme ‘Sustainable Management of the North Sea – SPSD I’, in 1997, this consortium gathered to investigate patterns and processes on the Belgian Continental Shelf (BCS). This lead us to decide to compile these data in a single database, and add data from public domain or from WestBanks scientists involved in earlier/other projects in a single WestBanks database. This integrative database can serve as basis for tackling relevant scientific and/or policy related questions that can never be answered by a single scientist alone.
The WestBanks database was build by VLIZ and once completed, scientists and end-users associated with the WestBanks project were invited to bring forward scientific issues that could possibly be tackled using the newly compiled WestBanks database. After compilation of questions and scientific hypotheses, a workshop (hosted by VLIZ in the IODE training facilities) was organised to start addressing these issues.

More information on the Workshop and the endresults are available in the
Westbanks Integrative Workshop report:

    Vanaverbeke J, Braeckman U, Claus S, Courtens W, De Hauwere N, Degraer S, Deneudt K, Goffin A, Mees J, Merckx B, Provoost P, Rabaut M, Soetaert K, Stienen E, Vincx M (2009). Long-term data from the Belgian Continental Shelf in the framework of science-based management of the coastal North Sea. Report of the WestBanks integrative workshop, October 2008. 23 pp.

Questions asked by 'Federale overheidsdienst Volksgezondheid, Veiligheid van de Voedselketen en Leefmilieu; Directoraat generaal Leefmilieu; Dienst Marien Milieu'

    Topic 1: Questions related to reproductive capacity
      (1) what data are available that can tell something on reproduction capacity (benthos, birds, fish)?
      (2) How can a stable reproduction capacity be defined/quantified?
      (3) X What densities and diversity are needed to reach a stable reproduction capacity?

    Topic 2: Questions related to eutrophication

      (1) Is there any evidence that benthos is significantly impacted by eutrophication in certain areas of the BCS;
      (2) what areas should be selected to address the possible impact of eutrophication;
      (3) how important is organic carbon in coastal waters?
      (4) To what extent is oxygen distribution in sediments a limiting factor for the benthic communities at the BCS?

    Topic 3: Seabirds-eutrophication

      (1) Are the foraging areas of self-feeding seabirds related to areas of eutrophication;
      (2) Is primary production related to breeding success of birds?
      (3) Is it possible to have accurate estimations of primary production in coastal waters?

    Topic 4: Phaeocystis - benthos

      Is there a quantity of Phaeocystis that can be assimilated through the benthos without causing disturbance to the system?

    Topic 5: Lanice conchilega related questions

      (1)Is there a link between the distribution of Lanice and juvenile sole?
      (2) Is the BEQI approach able to detect changes in Lanice patches after a beam trawl disturbance?
      (3) what is the extent and the frequency of the Lanice conchilega presence encountered so far?

Westbanks is a project Supported by the Belgian Science Policy (BELSPO): SSD Science for sustainable Development
General coordination: Magda Vincx & Jan Vanaverbeke
Hosted by the Flanders Marine Institute VLIZ