M I D A S
Marine Information and Data Acquisition System
Monitoring of sea and coastal birds [Project info]   [Cruises]
In 1992, the Institute of Nature Conservation started ship-based surveys on the Belgian Continental Shelf to study the spatial and temporal distribution of sea- and coastal birds. This pilot study was carried out in co-operation with the Management Union of the North Sea Mathematical Models (MUMM contract BH/94/42) and WWF. Since 1997, the study of birds at the Belgian part of the North Sea was intensified within the framework of the Program of Sustainable Management of the North Sea of OSTC (MN/DD/41). Among other things, these studies showed that the Belgian marine waters hold internationally important numbers (> 1% of the geographical populations) of several coastal and marine bird species. Also the area proved to be of major importance for several species of migratory birds. Of some migratory species (almost) the entire geographical population is known to pass through the narrow Channel area. Although extensive work on seabirds has been carried out so far, there are still important gaps. Some parts of the Belgian marine waters, for example, were (almost) never visited during previous studies. The causal aspects of the distribution of birds at sea is far from being understood. The temporal, horizontal and vertical distribution of pelagic fish that serve as food for fish-eating seabirds, for example, is practically unknown. Strong shifts in the foraging areas and diet composition of terns breeding at the outer harbour of Zeebrugge indicate that the availability and distribution of their food heavily fluctuates, but links with dynamics of the fish population was never established. Too fill these hiati the Institute of Nature Conservation in collaboration with the University of Gent wants to perform measurements of pelagic fish abundance at the BCP and link these to the distribution patterns of seabirds.

Fauna of floating macro algae [Project info]   [Cruises]
Heavy storms often turn adrift packages of macro algae. Such packages form habitats for small organisms and occur often in coastal waters. Algae packages found in front of the Belgian coast will originate from the rocky shores along the French and British coasts in the Channel area. The projects aims at studying the fauna associated with these packages and their role as vectors for the organisms inhabiting them. The study will collect data on species occurrence of both the algae packages and the surrounding waters, relate abundances with the size of the packages, the distance to the coast, species of algae and general abiotic factors, evaluate whether these packages function as islands with their own specific species fauna and gain insight on migration patterns of the associated fauna between the rocky shores of the Channel and the artificial substrates present along the Belgian coast.

Week van de Zee   [Cruises]
These cruises take primary school children to sea to educate them about sea related topics and specifically learn them basic concepts on the fauna of the sea. Cruises are in co-operation with 'Horizon Educatief vzw' who organise the 'Week van de Zee'.

AMORE [Project info]   [Cruises]
The coastal waters of the Southern Bight of the North Sea receive large quantities of nutrients of anthropogenic origin via rivers and the atmosphere. Eutrophication is apparent in the coastal zone in the form of undesirable qualitative changes in the structure and functioning of the planktonic ecosystem, and can be observed in the form of occasional accumulation of foul-smelling foam on beaches. Guaranteeing sustainable North Sea resources for future generations and protecting the quality of coastal waters is now both a national and an international concern. National and international regulations on sewage treatment facilities and farming practices aiming at the reduction of nutrient supply to the coastal sea have already been implemented in the various countries which border the North Sea. However, the scientific knowledge needed for a rational estimate of the reduction required and of the nutrient(s) which have highest priority for reduction (ammonium, nitrates and/or phosphates) is currently lacking. The subproject wants to study the related changes in the higher trophic levels, particularly zooplankton.

practical exercises - students   [Cruises]
The cruise is intended to demonstrate to university students various sampling techniques and research activities at sea

Biogeochemical fluxes of N, P & C in the North Sea   [Cruises]
Biogeochemical fluxes of N, P and C in the North Sea. The aim of this research project is to identify the major transport routes and biogeochemical cycles of nutrients in the North Sea. This includes the qualitative and quantitative behaviour of the nitrogen uptake and regeneration regime, determined by the availability of the nutrients and the ratio of the different nutrients, and its relationship with carbon sequestration by primary production and the relative biomasses and activities of the different plankton species.

Risk assessment of perfluorinated chemicals [Project info]   [Cruises]
Risk assessment of perfluorinated chemicals for the North Sea and Westerschelde Recent studies have indicated that perfluorinated chemicals show high persistence and distribution in various wildlife species. These chemicals are commonly used as solvents, surfactants and are applied in fire foam extinguishers but also for stain and/or wet resistance of paper and textile. One compound, perfluoro-octane sulfonic acid (PFOS) has been detected in organisms living at remote, non-industrialized areas.The purpose of the present study is to investigate the levels of these perfluorinated chemicals and their potential effects. Preliminary studies indicate that levels up to 85ng/g can be found in fish caught in the Westerschelde estuary.The sampling campaigns aim at characterizing the accumulation potential through the different trophic levels. These data will be completed with effect laboratory-based studies in order to derive safe threshold levels. In previous studies we already characterized the effects of PFOS on aspects of the endocrine metabolism of wildlife species. Furthermore we were able to pinpoint toxicological mechanisms using cellular reporter assays.membrame damage, oxidative stress and associated DNA damage were the most important effects noted. Biochemical studies with freshwater fish showed liver-necrosis like effects after a short term exposure period.Based on these effects and exposure data we will perform a rsik assessment for these chemicals for the North Sea and Westerschelde estuary.

Demonstration   [Cruises]
The objective of this cruise was to demonstrate various sampling techniques and the marine fauna to people from various organisations and authorities who's job activities include marine educational activities . The whole group co-operates in the 'Week van de Zee' to educate schoolchildren into marine related topics.

Monitoring the marine environment of the BCS [Project info]   [Cruises]
Continuous surveillance and evaluation of the quality of the marine environment of the Belgian Continental Shelf (BCS) and the Westerschelde estuary within the framework of the international monitoring programme (JAMP - Joint Assessment and Monitoring Programme) and the Nutrient Monitoring Programme (NMP) of the OSPAR commission and within the framework of national programmes (impact of sand extraction and dredging activities). MUMM determines nutrients, salinity, suspended matter, dissolved oxygen, TOC and POC, chlorophyll a, phaeophytine and optical parameters in the water column. Phytoplankton biomass and species composition as well as benthos species composition and biomass are also determined as part of the monitoring programme. These cruises will study the influence of tidal movements on a number of crucial parameters.

MIDAS cruises [Project info]   [Cruises]
The MIDAS cruises are intended to collect ctd-data from fixed stations along the Belgian coastal waters and underway data shipborn data on a monthly basis. These data will be made available to scientists and all interested parties through the MIDAS database. VLIZ hopes these data will proof usefull to many scientists when collected on a regular basis. Scientists who want to collect data/samples during these cruises are welcom to join. The cruises will also serve testing of instruments to ensure data quality when used during other cruises

Genetic diversity of marine benthos [Project info]   [Cruises]
The population structure of organisms is the outcome of historic processes (climate and migration) and remains subjected to gene flow, mutation, selection and genetic drift. Our own research on the population structure of gobies of the genus Pomatoschistus has shown that historic processes, selection and migration play indeed a role in the North Sea. This research will be continued with highly variable markers and will be extended with common sole. Moreover, the parallel evolution of the goby complex Pomatoschistus and the parasite complex Gyrodactylus will be studied.

Endocrine disruption in Neomysis integer [Project info]   [Cruises]
Sampling and in situ exposure of Neomysis integer in the Westerschelde estuary for use with the selected biomarkers, will show if effects of exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals are present in the field. Chemical analyses of the body burden of the sampled species will establish concentration-response relationships between a possible response of the selected biomarkers and the chemicals in question. This field study will provide an evaluation of the utility of the selected biomarkers for screening of endocrine disrupting effects in N. integer.

Identification of SS and algae using DAIS/ROSIS   [Cruises]
Identification of different suspended sediments and algau types using the DAIS/ROSIS hyperspectral sensor The research will focus on the development and validation of a hyperspectral model that extracts water quality parameters from DAIS/ROSIS data and might possibly classify different types of suspended sediments. The optics behind this classification is not well known however, the high spectral resolution, offered by DAIS/ROSIS, and the accurate sampling may resolve this issue. Tackling this subject is quite problematic in coastal and turbid waters. Therefore a careful modelling of the radiative transfer fo the atmosphere and aquatic medium will be established. The model will consider several contributors: raman scattering, bottom reflectance and fluorescence due to chlorophyll and coloured dissolved organic matter (CDOM) Ground reference measurements will be performed to garantee an accurate calibration of the retrieved water signal from DAIS/ROSIS. Water samples are collected together with radiometric measurements. The cruises will be made in cooperation with German Aerospace Center (DLR) operating its Digital Airborn Imaging Spectrometers (DAIS7915 and ROSIS) within the HySens 2001 project framework.

Macrobenthos and coastal zone management   [Cruises]
Study of the eological vulnerability of the Belgian coastal waters and setup of a monitoring plan with regard to the protection of the ennvironment during oilspills Since 1994, major parts of the BCS have already been sampled for macrobenthos, with the aim of performing a macrobenthic community analysis for our marine areas. The stations and areas chosen for macrobenthic sampling during this campaign fill up the spatial 'gaps' that haven't been investigated yet. Macrobenthic samples will be taken using a Van Veen grab. This campaign will contribute to the completion of the research on the spatial distribution of the macrofauna of the BCS.

The heterotrophy/autotrophy balans and the N-cycle [Project info]   [Cruises]
The balance between heterotrophic and autotrophic processes: consequences for the nitrogen cycle. The objective of the Flemisch-Dutch collaboration programme is to assess the balance between production and respiration processes at the scale of an entire estuary and at the level of isolated communities, considering simultaneously the carbon and nitrogen dynamics. Moreover it will (1) assess system and species specific primary production; (2) Assess the assimilation of carbon and nitrogen by algae and bacteria; (3) Study the three major nitrogen cycling processes (denitrification, nitrification and ammonium regeneration).

The Abra alba/Mysella bidentata community on BCS [Project info]   [Cruises]
Because of the high ecological value of parts of the Belgian Continental Shelf (BCS), combined with increasing anthropogenic pressure on the marine ecosystem, the establishment of marine protected areas (MPA’s) is of high priority within the current policy. Biological information is essential to be able to set up a scientifically justified management. Since indicators (Feral, 1999) allow to describe the environment on a time- and cost efficient way, they represent useful tools within the monitoring of the management. So far, the Abra alba – Mysella bidentata community is the most diverse and dense macrobenthic community of the BCS. The ‘riff’ building polychaet Lanice conchilega performs an important habitat structuring function within the community, with a possible subsequent increase of densities and diversity. Abra alba and Spisula subtruncata, two characteristic and abundant bivalves of the community, are important food resources for higher trophic levels, such as demersal fishes and seabirds. Scientifically justified management and monitoring of this ecologically valuable Abra alba – Mysella bidentata community is of highest importance. At first, detailed knowledge on the ecology of the community is needed (e.g. spatial and temporal patterns). Secondly, the population dynamics of ecological important species (such as Lanice conchilega, Spisula subtruncata and Abra alba) has to be evaluated, considering their use as indicators for a time- and cost efficient monitoring of the community. The spatial distribution of the community and its habitat preferences will be studied. Special attention will be paid to the community structure (e.g. diversity, density, biomass and trophic interactions) along physico-chemical gradients (Western – Eastern coastal zone, onshore - offshore). This will be done by means of (1) the collection of new macrobenthic data within unstudied parts of the BCS and (2) detailed literature and data research on the macrobenthos of the BCS. Temporal variability in the community structure will be studied on short (seasonal), medium (year-to-year) and long (’70 versus ’90) term and this along physico-chemical gradients. Therefore, macrobenthic samples will be collected monthly (March 2002 to October 2003) at different zones of the BCS (Western Coastal banks, Eastern coastal zone and an offshore area). During the period of major recruitment (May and June) samples will be collected every two weeks. Data obtained will be compared with data available from previous studies (’70 versus ’90). The study of the population dynamics of ecological important species in relation to their environment is indispensable to evaluate their use in monitoring. Macrobenthic, meiobenthic and plankton samples will therefore be collected at the same places and during the same period as indicated for the temporal study. Comparing zones with and without Lanice ‘riffs’, the habitat and community structuring capacity of Lanice conchilega will be studied

TROPHOS [Project info]   [Cruises]
Higher Trophic Levels in the Southern North Sea Trophos aims at studying the processes that structure the higher trophic levels in the North Sea ecosystem. Research will include food web interactions shaping the benthic communities and involves the use of natural stable isotopes and tracers. These tracers make it possible to unravel how food cascades into animal biomass. Special attention will be given to the fate of Phaeocystis. Inverse modeling allows quantifying the food web flows. As a second topic, dispersal mechanisms on the BCS will be studied, since they are of great importance for those species having a pelagic life-style or pelagic larvae. Lagrangian modeling of particles in a 3-D hydrodynamical model will be coupled with high-resolution genotyping of the animal populations in space and time. Causal aspects of the distribution of seabirds will be investigated by linking their distribution to the temporal, horizontal and vertical distribution of pelagic fish that serve as food for fish-eating seabirds.

REVAMP [Project info]   [Cruises]
Regional validation of MERIS chorophyll products in North Sea coastal waters The EU-funded REVAMP project aims at supporting the monitoring of the eutrophication state of the North Sea by producing and validating maps of chlorophyll concentration derived from satellite observations (Envisat-MERIS). In addition to algorithm work and image processing REVAMP will participate in seaborne cruises for the purposes of calibration of algorithms and for validation of the end products.

CHRIS   [Cruises]
Applications of the CHRIS imaging spectrometer The ESA-funded CHRIS project aims to exploit satellite data from the hyperspectral imaging spectrometer CHRIS aboard the technology-proving PROBA mission in order to produce and validate maps of chlorophyll and suspended particulate matter concentration. Seaborne cruises are planned for the purposes of validation of the end products

Kustverdediging [Project info]   [Cruises]
To evaluate the effect on the benthos of the planned construction of new harbordefence walls in front of Oostende, this project will collect data on the T0 situation of the macrofauna

Dispersion of Clupeidae   [Cruises]
Habitat, life history and dispersion of Clupeidae in the Southern Bight of the North Sea The aim of this research is the study of the dynamics of metapopulations of marine Clupeidae in the Southern Bight of the North Sea. These Clupeidae are a major food source of the piscivorous Sterna sandvicensis and Sterna hirundo. Study of the genetic diversity, structure, gene migration, life history and adaptations of these populations will gain insight in the dynamics of metapopulations and the response of species on a changing environment.

Metapopulation structure of estuarine fish [Project info]   [Cruises]
Estuaries are crucial habitats in the life history of many species; they are nurseries to juveniles of marine and freshwater fish. Resident species complete their life cycle in estuaries while diadromous species pass estuaries on their way to their spawning grounds. The community structure in estuaries is highly dependent on migrations of fish between the coastal nurseries and the estuarine feeding grounds. This research projects aims to clarify the spatial and functional role estuaries perform for juvenile marine fish. In particular, we address the question which proportion of estuarine migrants relative to marine residents contribute to the next cohort. In order to be able to do this, fish have to be assigned to populations and habitats, and exchange rates have to be determined. We use stable isotopes to trace migrations and genetic markers to investigate the metapopulation structure.

AMORE II [Project info]   [Cruises]
The research project AMORE-II adresses eutrophication processes in Belgian coastal waters. Based upon knowledge gained during the projects AMORE-I (1997-2001) and IZEUT (2000-2001), research will further focus on establishing quantitative and qualitative links between nutrients (N, P, Si), spreading of high biomass blooms of the colony-forming Haptophycea Phaeocystis, the diatom Guinardia delicatula and the dinoflagellate Noctiluca. In support to governmental policy, the overall objective of AMORE II is to provide new ecological knowledge and an upgraded version of the existing three-dimensional ecological model 3D-MIRO&CO.

MONAY [Project info]   [Cruises]
Monitoring Natuurherstel Ijzermonding) In opdracht van AMINAL wordt het sedimenttransport in het Ijzerestuarium gemonitord De metingen dienen om gegevens te verzamelen voor calibratie en validatie van een numeriek model dat inzicht moet brengen in de morphodynamica van de slikken en schorren van het reservaat.

Bel-Colour [Project info]   [Cruises]
The BEL-COLOUR project aims at improving the theoretical basis and software tools for applications of suspended matter and chlorophyll-based satellite data products in coastal waters. In addition to algorithm work and image processing BEL-COLOUR will participate in seaborne cruises for the purposes of calibration of algorithms and for validation of the end products.

SEBAB-II [Project info]   [Cruises]
Determination of the fine grain sediment transport of the Belgian coastal waters The project aims at increasing our knowledge on fine-grained suspended sediment transport on the Belgian continental shelf. A better understanding of these sediment movements is important when selecting dumping sites for dredged material with a high efficiency. The use of numerical models with sattelite images and in situ measurements allows quantifying the transport of suspended matter. The combining of these methods allows also to indentify the different sources (Strait of Dover, Tertiary clay layers, Quaternary clay and mud layers) of mud. The measurements aim at investigating the natural variability (tide, spring-neap cycle, seasons) of the suspended matter and aim at setting up the mud distribution in the coastal zone.

Eumarsand [Project info]   [Cruises]
European Marine Sand and Gravel Resources: Evaluation and Environmental Impact of Extraction (Eumarsand) This project addresses the urgent need for integrated and coherent approaches (at a European level) to resource prospecting and the assessment of the environmental impacts of marine aggregates (sand and gravel) extraction. Its objectives include (i) the compilation of information on usage, production, resource availability and relevant regulatory (licensing) regimes at a European level; (ii) the evaluation of existing geophysical/geological survey strategies, instrumentation and interpretative techniques used to prospect resources; (iii) the assessment of existing methods to assess the physical and ecological impacts of the extraction. The project comprises both 'desk'- and 'fieldwork'-based investigations. With regard to the field studies, two resources (and extraction sites) at the southern North Sea and Baltic Seas will be prospected using state-of-the-art geophysical/geological techniques and instrumentation (e.g multi-beam and very high resolution seismics). The physical impacts of the extraction on the seabed/adjacent coastlines will be assessed using innovative hydro-, sediment and morphodynamic modelling, calibrated/validated by high quality in-situ measurements. The ecological impacts will be assessed using improved research protocols. The integration of the results will be then used to formulate improved research protocols and guidelines.

Open Deur   [Cruises]

OT-SAFE   [Cruises]
The biocide tributyltin (TBT) has been widely used in anti-fouling ship paint and accumulates through the marine food chain. Although many studies have been undertaken with regard to environmental occurrence of TBT there is very little data on concentrations in seafood. A recent literature survey indicated that in some European countries present levels of TBT in seafood may lead to consumers exceeding the Tolerable Daily Intake for humans and may therefore pose a risk to consumer health. However, the available data were very limited and for most EU-countries no information was available. The main objective of this European Commission Research Project is to drastically reduce the current uncertainty regarding TBT in seafood and its safety for European seafood consumers by: -Building an EU-wide database on the occurrence of TBT in seafood for the European market; -Studying the effect of different cooking procedures commonly used in Europe, on TBT-levels in the most relevant seafood; -Assessing whether there is a risk for consumers associated with the consumption of TBT-containing seafood sold on the European market; -Informing National and European authorities on food safety about the risk of TBT in European seafood and if necessary assisting these authorities in taking appropriate action.

BEWREMABI [Project info]   [Cruises]
BEWREMABI - Belgian Shipwreck : hotspots for marine biodiversity Shipwrecks provide increased habitat complexity, and hence attract and harbour many more species than the relatively homogenous soft substrates in their vicinity. Hard substrates offer an opportunity for sessile epifauna to settle and a refugium from predators for mobile epifauna and nekton. Several wrecks are candidates for the designation of Marine Protected Areas in Belgium. They can be used as a model for other hard substrates, like the foundations of windmills that will be built in the Belgian part of the North Sea in the near future. Wrecks form an impediment to fishing, and provide a model for non-fishing areas. One of the objectives of this study is to compare the soft-bottom fauna of the open areas with the less-intensely trawled bottoms adjacent to the wrecks. Methods Five wrecks located in Belgian waters will be sampled for biotic and abiotic data at different periods of the year. The meiofauna, macrofauna and epifauna of the wrecks will be studied by direct observations, photographs and sampling by divers. Macrofauna in the soft substrates around the wreck will be sampled in situ by S.C.U. B.A. using suction dredger and cores. Slow moving sessile fauna will be sampled by scraping selected quadrats. Small swimming and/or nocturnal fauna will be caught by means of baited traps. Large swimming epifauna will be sampled visually in situ. Density, biomass, and species composition of the benthic communities of the different wrecks will be described, and biodiversity will be estimated. Within each wreck, studies will be conducted in order to compare different factors affecting biodiversity: period of the year (i.e. seasonal effect), orientation of the sampled station (i.e. horizontal and vertical surfaces), depths of the station and other abiotic factors around the wrecks such as water temperature, conductivity, irradiance, currents, turbidity. Historical data sets and mathematical models will also be used. By means of multivariate statistical techniques, the ecological communities of the wrecks will be compared to each other and to those of the surrounding sediments. The species assemblages will also be compared with those of natural and artificial hard substrates in Belgium, northern France and eastern England (both intertidal and subtidal structures: literature survey and input from end-user committee).

Expeditie Zeeleeuw [Project info]   [Cruises]

PERFORCE [Project info]   [Cruises]
Recently, there has been an increase in the knowledge concerning the presence and fate of perfluorinated compounds. They are known as ubiquitous environmental contaminants, which occur in wildlife tissues with relatively high concentrations. Even in remote (Arctic) areas FOCs are present in a great diversity of organisms in detectable concentrations. The presence of one of the most important perfluorinated compounds, namely PFOS, has already been described in the Scheldt estuary. In this study, we will focuss on other, related perfluorinated chemicals, as other compounds are also used in several industrial applications. This study will provide a basis for completing the picture of the presence and distribution of perfluorinated compounds in the Belgian and Dutch aquatic environment.

MAREBASSE [Project info]   [Cruises]
The -Marebasse- research project is essentially meant to set-up an integrated assessment framework for marine aggregates. This framework is regarded important to answer management/policy questions on how a sustainable exploitation of marine resources should be viewed and what approaches should be envisaged. This implies that essentially an increase of knowledge is necessary on the level of the sediments themselves and their distribution, but also on the dynamical environment. The project is structured around a three-tiered approach encompassing three spatial scales: broad-based, regional and site-specific. Fieldwork programmes are the focal point of the regional and site-specific research, however with a coupling towards the broad-based approach.

Ecological Interactions in Lanice-fields [Project info]   [Cruises]
This study aims at investigating specific ecological interactions in order to provide information on how marine protection, i.c. reducing or excluding fisheries impact, impacts the ecosystem functioning as well as how the higher trophic levels are influenced. The study is performed along the coast of the Belgian Continental Shelf and on the Flemish beaches. The presence of the sandmason Lanice conchilega provides habitat complexity. This polychaet occurs in very high densities (3000 ind/m²). The tubes create a micro-environment in which suspended material is trapped. In this way ‘tubereefs’ develop. The impact of beam trawl fisheries on this habitat will be investigated in different disturb experiments. The dispersion of the subtidal reefs can be analysed through side scan sonar imagery. The ecological interactions with sole Solea solea will be investigated through stomach analyses. The stomach contents of sole foraging near Lanice re fs and sole further off those reefs will be compared. Sole will be caught with special designed drift nets. The quantitative data of this research will be integrated in a decision support system through the Stella® software.

Artificiële riffen [Project info]   [Cruises]
Marine artificial reefs are described as "each material or each matter that is intentionally placed in a marine area, where that structure does not occur under natural circumstances and to mimic certain characteristics of a natural reef as a main goal (Jensen, 1998; Svane & Petersen, 2001; Seaman, 2000; Anonymous, 2003). Artificial reefs can influence the infauna of the natural nearby soft-sediments in different ways: (1) by changing the hydrodynamic regime and the physical characteristics of the sediments, (2) through the modification of the distribution and/or composition of the available food sources and (3) through the change of the biological interactions between different parts of the food web. One of those factors can dominate over the others or the different factors can act together (Ambrose & Anderson, 1990; Danovaro et al., 2002). In the present study, we investigate the influence of changed predator-prey interactions versus the influence of physical changes on the infauna of the natural soft-sediments nearby artificial reefs.

Cryptic variation in Pseudo-nitzschia pungens [Project info]   [Cruises]
Reproductieve, genetische en fenotypische variatiepatronen in relatie tot toxiciteit bij Pseudo-nitzschia pungens The phenomenon of toxic phytoplankton blooms has been increasing world-wide in the last decades, the main problem being the spread of toxin-producing species. In order to detect these toxic blooms, worldwide monitoring programs are being undertaken. The efficiency of the monitoring programs is mainly determined by the ability of fast and accurate detection methods of the toxic species. One of the most important toxic algal species is Pseudo-nitzschia. Accurate identification of the different Pseudo-nitzschia species is only possible by electron microscopy, which is time-consuming and labor-intensive. An alternative, fast identification method for toxic species is the use of molecular probes. Unfortunately the use of these probes (rDNA-probes for Pseudo-nitzschia) have not always been successful. Possible problems are the presence of intra-specific variation within the specific DNA-region and the presence of cryptic species. The main objective of this project is to obtain a better understanding of the nature and evolutionary context of the cryptic variation patterns in morphological, reproductive and molecular characteristics in relationship to the toxicity of Pseudo-nitzschia species. This study will focus on the Pseudo-nitzschia pungens/multiseries complex, one of the most abundant and potentially toxic representatives of the genus in the North Sea. This study will contribute to a well-grounded development of fast molecular detection methods for toxic algal blooms.

Instrument Trial/Demonstration   [Cruises]

Instrument trial   [Cruises]

Archeologische evaluatie van wrakken [Project info]   [Cruises]
Archeological evaluation of shipswrecks The aim of the project is to document and evaluate thoroughly the maritime heritage present in the database www.maritieme-archeologie.be and through photos and videos. Apart from visual documentation also information in relation to the actual state of the wreck is gathered.

INRAM [Project info]   [Cruises]
INRAM - Integrated Risk Assessment and Monitoring of micropollutants in the Belgian coastal zone· Using an integrated risk assessment approach INRAM aims to: (1) study the transfer and environmental concentrations of established priority compounds (cf. OSPAR, WFD and the UNECE lists) and emerging pollutants (e.g. pharmaceuticals) transfer via the three Belgian coastal harbours and the Scheldt, to coastal waters, (2) develop and apply an unique research and assessment strategy combining (a) novel field and laboratory ecotoxicological methods with high ecological (and commercial relevance and (b) new sampling and sensitive analytical techniques and (c) in-depth ecological studies of key species (including an avian top-predator) in the Belgian coastal (3) by using an integrate approach we will establish the ecological effects and food chain transfer of these chemicals and thus for the first time, be able to evaluate and quantitatively establish the relationship between local occurrence of hazardous compounds, ecosystem health and potential human health effects,and (4) develop and evaluate a framework and toolbox for the assessment and monitoring the chemical anthropogenic pressures on coastal ecosystems and commercial marine products.

WestBanks [Project info]   [Cruises]

Micromet [Project info]   [Cruises]
The aim of the MICROMET research project is to understand the interactions between the structure and activity of microbial communities and metal contamination in marine sediments. To this end, we will study the whole microbial community (archaebacteria, eubacteria and microeukaryotes) of sediments in the BCP area using an interdisciplinary approach in which state-of-the-art geochemical and (molecular) microbiological methods are closely integrated. The proposed research will be divided in three Work Packages (WP 1-3). The aim of WP 1 will be to determine the impact of metallic contaminants on the microbial diversity in sediments. This aim is directly related to the "Biodiversity" research domain of the SSD programme. The aim of WP 2 will be to assess the importance of microorganisms in the leaching of metal contaminants from the sediments into the water column. This aim is directly connected with the "Marine Ecosystems of the North Sea" research domain of the SSD programme. The aim of WP 3 will be to run numerical models with the data collected during the project. This will allow predictions and lead to a better understanding of the North Sea benthic ecosystem.

Calibration of Multibeam Images [Project info]   [Cruises]
Underwater photopgraphic images are collected for the calibration of retrodiffused acoustic signals taken from Multibeam echosondng. Georeferenced underwater images are taken on a previously multibeam mapped zone on the hinderbank region in a period of clear water in 2007. Photographic images will also serve for video mosaicing.

In situ corrosiegedrag van metalen op de zeebodem   [Cruises]
Er wordt getracht een relevant monitoringsysteem op te stellen waarmee een eventuele archeaologische onderwateropgraving van bij het begin kan worden begeleid en eventueel bijgestuurd vanuit conservatorisch inzicht. Een testbank voor het opvolgen van het corrosiegedrag van bepaalde metalen in situ wordt daarom ontworpen. Een aantal verschillende monsters worden in de onmiddellijke omgeving van een wraksite geplaatst waarvan de opgraving zelf nog niet begonnen is. Na een bepaalde tijd zullen de monsters worden verwijderd en geëvalueerd. Na analyse kunnen deze, in combinatie met gegevens over de omgevingsomstandigheden, informatie bieden over de toestand van de archeologische objecten die zich nog onaangeroerd op de site bevinden. Op die manier kunnen er reeds op voorhand maatregelen genomen worden.

Abundance of dinoflagellate cyst in marine cores   [Cruises]
Interlaboratory comparison of calculation of absolute abundances of dinoflagellate cysts. During the last GEUS workshop, held in Copenhagen from 10-13 November, there was a discussion regarding the different methodologies for calculating absolute concentrations of dinoflagellate cysts (using different sieve widths, cold/warm HF, ultrasonication, decanting,...). To improve the credibility of these calculations, we proposed to make an interlaboratory comparison of the calculation of dinoflagellate cyst abundances. Goal is to evaluate all methods, in terms of relative abundances, absolute abundances and diversities. We want to perform a similar calibration like done for alkenones (Rosell-Melé et al. 2001, G3), coccoliths (Herrle & Bollman, 2003, Marine Micropal), Mg/Ca from forams (Barker et al., 2005, QSR), etc... Samples from three Late Quaternary sites with different lithologies will be used. The taxonomy of Quaternary cysts is relatively straightforward, and the diversities are quite low. Data integration and interpretation will mainly be done at the University of Ghent. Each contributor will be co-author for this project, and the results will be submitted to Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, and will be presented at the DINO8 meeting in Montréal.

Rhabdocoela fauna of the Belgian North Sea [Project info]   [Cruises]
The rhabdocoela fauna of the Belgian North Sea The aim of this project will be the sampling of the Belgian sublittoral coastal areas, with reference to the Rhabdocoela (Platyhelminthes). More in specific, as many different species as possible will be collected, from the Dalytyphloplanida as well as the Kalyptorhynchia. The primary result will be a faunistic study, but the data will also be used in several phylogenetic and phylogeographic analyses. De rhabdocoela fauna van de Belgische Noordzee Het doel van dit project is het bemonsteren van de Belgische sublittorale kustgebieden met betrekking tot de Rhabdocoela (Platyhelminthes). Meer specifiek zullen zoveel mogelijk verschillende soorten verzameld worden, zowel behorende tot de Dalytyphloplanida als tot de Kalyptorhynchia. In eerste instantie zal dit resulteren in een faunistische studie, maar de gegevens zullen verder ook gebruikt worden in verschillende fylogenetische en fylogeografische analyses.

Parasite Infestation of cultured shellfish   [Cruises]
Project of Bela Buck, AWI - Bremerhaven

Monitoring KRW [Project info]   [Cruises]
Monitoring Kader Richtlijn Water

Pseudomonas sampling   [Cruises]
An important bacterium in the medicinal treatment of burns is Pseudomonas auruginosa. For proper treatment with antibiotics, the origin of the bacteria is often important. The burns unit of the Military Hospital Queen Astrid (Nederoverheembeek, Brussels) maintains a global collection of Pseudomonas auruginosa subspecies and strains and studies the migrationpatterns of these bacteria. To complete this collection samples for the coastal waters ought to be collected. This one time evet aims at collecting Pseudomonas bacteria from both inshore and offshore waters of the North Sea.

Planeet Zee [Project info]   [Cruises]

Acoela & Nemertodermatida from the Belgian Coast [Project info]   [Cruises]
Acoela & Nemertodermatida from the Belgian part of the North Sea Acoela en Nemertodermatida are two taxa of bilateral symmetrical animals, characterised by an acoelomate body, een fully ciliated epidermis gecilieerde epidermis en singular opening to the intestine.Both taxa possess a statocyst, containing one statolith in the Acoela en two or more in the j Nemertodermatida. Taxonomically both groups are traditinally placed within the Platyhelminthes, but recent molecular research places them as two distinct taxa, at the basis of the Bilateria. This research delas with the specification mechanisms of the germinal line within the Acoela, from a morfological point of view. So far no published data exist on the occurrence of Acoela and Nemertodermatida species in the Belgian coastal waters. Part of the samples specimens will be used for morfological investigations while another part will be used to start laboratory cultures.

Training Scientific Diving   [Cruises]
Training of scientific diving activities

Organic material in coastal sediments   [Cruises]
De totale hoeveelheid organisch materiaal in mariene sedimenten wordt frequent gebruikt als maat voor de voedselbeschikbaarheid voor het mariene bodemleven; zo ook in de studie “Ecologische monitoring kustverdedigngsproject Oostende (T0-situatie, fase 3)” (MDK dossiernr. 205.240). Toch bestaan hierbij nog heel wat ecologische en technische problemen. Zo dienen niet alle bestanddelen van het organische materiaal in de bodem tot voedsel en wordt bij slibrijke sedimenten het gehalte organisch materiaal blijkbaar veelal drastisch overschat. Alhoewel reeds heel wat studie werd verricht naar de bepaling van verschillende deelcomponenten van het organisch materiaal (vb. koolhydraten, vetzuren en eiwitten), bestaat momenteel geen enkel overzichtelijk werk, waarbij de verschillende componenten met elkaar in verband worden gebracht. Door het ontbreken van een dergelijke studie is het momenteel uitermate moeilijk de ecologische relevantie van het organisch materiaal in mariene sedimenten in te schatten; dit alhoewel de bepaling van het organisch materiaal in mariene sedimenten veelvuldig wordt opgenomen in o.a. monitoringsopdrachten, zoals de voorziene opdrachten betreffende de monitoring van de ecologische effecten als gevolg van het kustverdedigingsproject en de havenuitbreiding (o.a. baggerwerken) te Oostende. Dit onderzoek heeft tot doel de relaties tussen verschillende karakteristieken van het organisch materiaal te kwantificeren. Hierbij zal onder andere aandacht worden besteed aan (1) de relaties tussen vetzuren, eiwitten, koolhydraten en pigmentconcentraties, (2) de relatie totaal organisch materiaal versus totaal organische en anorganische koolstof en stikstof en (3) de relatie tussen deze karakteristieken en het slibgehalte van het sediment .

Monitoring hard substrates windmills [Project info]   [Cruises]
The goal of this monitoring is to investigate the new biotope that is created by the offshore windmills. Therefore the colonization of the foundations and scour protection of the windmills by epifauna and fish will be closely monitored by diving. As will the effects on the soft substrates around the windmills. The sampled data must enable to work out differences and resemblances with other windfarms (also abroad) and with natural hard substrates.

Small scale sediment dynamics near objects [Project info]   [Cruises]
Small-scale sediment dynamics near objects in shallow water and the effects of hydrodynamic forcing conditions (tides, waves) A better understanding of small-scale near-bottom sediment dynamics. Concept thinking in order to measure and map out time-dependent sediment dynamics. Coupling with the burial and exposure cycles of objects on a sandy sea bottom with the focus on megaripple migration as one of the primary mechanisms of burial. Relating these cycles (and its frequency) to (short-term) causal (hydrodynamical and meteorological) processes. Methodology: High-frequency measurements using side-scan sonar and long-period burial registration mines combined with hydro-meteorological data (ADCP, instrumented tripod, etc.) and detailed sediment analysis from box core samples. Applications: Military (minehunting and port protection), archaeology (underwater patrimony), aggregate industry, underwater infrastructure (eg. pipelines), salvage (cargo, shipwrecks), underwater technology (coastal observatory).

Pelagische visserij en zooplankton [Project info]   [Cruises]
De (semi-)pelagische visserij als alternatief binnen de Vlaamse visserijsector, met speciale aandacht voor de rol van het zoöplankton in het Noordzee ecosysteem. De meeste Europese visbestanden zijn overbevist en tegelijkertijd staat de visserijsector in verschillende landen onder zware financiële druk. Ook de Vlaamse sleepnetvisserij kampt met hoge exploitatiekosten en heeft een negatieve impact op het mariene ecosysteem, onder meer door de hoge teruggooi en schade aan het bodemleven. Om een duurzame strategie uit te werken voor de Vlaamse visserijsector moet rekening worden gehouden met een diversificatie van de visserijmethodes, inclusief het zoeken naar nichevisserijen en het beter benutten van andere mariene levende rijkdommen. Omwille van het fenomeen ‘fishing down the food web’, waardoor de meeste toppredatoren verdwenen zijn, is er wereldwijd een biologische evolutie merkbaar van een systeem gedomineerd door demersale vissoorten (en dito visserij) naar een systeem met vooral (semi-)pelagische vissoorten. De pelagische visserij draagt in belangrijke mate bij tot de totale visvangst van diverse zeeën. Daarnaast is er, mede door de huidige klimaatsveranderingen, een opmars van kwallen en andere laag-trofische planktivore pelagische soorten. Onderzoek naar de mate waarin deze trend zich ook in de (zuidelijke) Noordzee voordoet is sterk aangewezen. In tegenstelling tot het benthische ecosysteem (bodemdieren – demersale vissen) is het pelagisch ecosysteem van de Noordzee minder goed gekend. Nochtans maken veel benthische organismen één of meerdere pelagische fases door, waardoor er een duidelijke koppeling is met het benthische ecosysteem. In het pelagische voedselweb speelt het zoöplankton een cruciale rol als stapelvoedsel voor hogere trofische niveaus. Dit zoöplankton bestaat uit kleine dierlijke organismen die vrij in de waterkolom leven en zich voornamelijk voeden met ander plankton (zowel plantaardig als dierlijk) en met detritus. Een betere kennis over de ruimtelijke en temporele verspreiding van het zoöplankton, in relatie tot de aanwezigheid van pelagische vissoorten en zeevogels, is nodig om het belang van het pelagische ecosysteem en de mogelijkheden van een (semi-)pelagische visserij in de Noordzee te kunnen inschatten. Binnen ILVO-Dier, Visserij wordt al enige tijd wetenschappelijk onderzoek gevoerd naar mogelijke alternatieven voor de boomkorvisserij, zoals het commerciële gebruik van vislijnen, passieve netten en fuiken. Dit doctoraat, met als onderzoeksthema ‘de (semi-)pelagische visserij’, sluit daar nauw bij aan.

Micropolluenten in Garnaal [Project info]   [Cruises]
Impact van persistente organische polluenten op de Noordzeegarnaal ( Crangon crangon) Wegens de ecologische niche als opportunistische predator, de algemene verspreiding en hoge abundantie in de Noordzee en de Europese kustwateren vertegenwoordigt de grijze garnaal (C. crangon) een belangrijk target voor biomonitoring van bio-accumulerende persistente organische polluenten (POP’s). Momenteel worden de concentraties van de voornaamste POP’s, waaronder vele endocrien verstorende chemicaliën (EDC’s), in C. crangon jaarlijks gemeten, waarbij meerdere verontrustende waarden werden genoteerd. Deze meetwaarden bieden echter weinig bruikbare informatie zolang de concentratie-afhankelijke effecten op het welzijn van de noordzeegarnaal -en daaruit voortvloeiend het welzijn van de populatie en het ecosysteem- niet gekend zijn. Gedurende de onderzoekstermijn zal ondermeer een moleculaire ‘tool’ ontwikkeld worden waarmee de effecten van vervuiling op moleculair niveau gekwantificeerd kunnen worden. De bruikbaarheid van deze ‘tool’ zal getoetst worden aan de hand van garnaalstalen van diverse lokaties in de Noordzee en de Westerschelde, die op seizoenale basis gedurende het project verzameld zullen worden.

EnSIS [Project info]   [Cruises]
ECOSYSTEM SENSITIVITY TO INVASIVE SPECIES - EnSIS The introduction of invasive species is now considered a major problem to marine ecosystems. The American jack knife clam Ensis directus represents a well-investigated and -documented example of such invasion in North-West European coastal waters. Given its high densities and habitat preferences, a major impact onto the Abra alba community, the biologically highest valuated macrobenthic community along the Belgian coast, was hypothesized. The high densities in combination with its fast growth further feed the discussion on a possible future commercial exploitation of the species. However, before being able to tackle both issues, still many ecological baseline questions remain unanswered. The project “Ecosystem Sensitivity to Invasive Species – EnSIS” will aim at (1) characterizing the ecological features of E. directus in Belgian waters, (2) evaluating the ecological impacts of E. directus’ introduction and (3) assessing the impact of possible E. directus’ fisheries. As no reliable data on Ensis spp. populations are available from the Belgian part of the North Sea (BPNS), a first necessary and inevitable step will be to collect baseline field information on Ensis directus, using the most appropriate and reliable sampling techniques (Work package 1 “New data collection”). This newly collected data on E. directus’ distribution as well as population size and structure, in relation to its habitat features and accompanying macrobenthic fauna, will then feed into Work package 2 “Ecological features”, where (1) its habitat and spatial distribution will be both directly characterized or assessed as well as mapped through habitat suitability modeling and (2) its accompanying macrobenthic species assemblage will be qualified and quantified. Based on this knowledge the impact of E. directus on the spatial distribution of wintering seaducks, mainly black scoter Melanitta nigra and velvet scoter Melanitta fusca, at the BPNS will be assessed (Work package 3). Work package 3 will further focus on the identification of the potential impact of E. directus on the indigenous macrobenthic fauna through a comparison of existing macrobenthic data from before versus after its introduction in 1987. Work package 4 will finally address the impact of a possible future E. directus fisheries on (1) its accompanying macrofauna, making use of (a) the habitat suitability modeling exercise from Work package 2 as well as (b) a biological trait analysis as a function of fisheries disturbance and (2) on its population, using literature data on E. directus (and other bivalve) population dynamics and life history features. Given the need for a wide expertise regarding E. directus and, by extension, macrobenthos and its habitat in general, a research team with a diverse expertise was set up. Each partner brings in a specific expertise, needed to comply with the objectives of this project. Having a rich background in (1) inva

Eutrof [Project info]   [Cruises]
This projects aims at assessing whether sediments at the Belgian Continental Shelf are influenced by eutrophication. Therefore the macrofauna of the BCS is investigated in combination with a number of environmental variables. Het project heeft als doel om na te gaan of de sedimenten op het Belgisch Continentaal Plat onder invloed zijn van eutrofiëring. Daartoe wordt het macrobenthos van het BCP onderzocht in combinatie met een aantal omgevingsvariabelen.

MER Haven Oostende   [Cruises]

WAKO II [Project info]   [Cruises]
WAKO II: an integrated assessment of the effects of beam trawl and trammel net fisheries for five structural ecosystem components: endofaunal and epifaunal invertebrates, fish, seabirds and marine mammals at the BPNS. This project encompasses four work packages: 1. Quantification of the mortality and/or interaction of 5 ecosystem components (endofauna, epifauna, fish, seabirds and marine mammals) and beam trawl / trammel net fishery 2. Sensitivity assessment: Selection of key species, sensitive to beam trawl and/or trammel net fishery 3. Spatial and/or temporal distribution patterns of the selected, sensitive key species 4. Development of sensitivity maps for beam trawl and trammel net fisheries, based on the spatio-temporal distribution of key species and comparison with fishing effort at the BPNS. The integration of spatial full cover distribution maps of key species, sensitivity analyses and the best available information on fishing effort will enable us to spatially map the impact of the two most important Belgian fisheries and will provide a baseline for the development of policies, leading to an appropriate environmental management and a sustainable coastal fisheries management for both beam trawl and trammel net fisheries.

Artificiële Riffen II [Project info]   [Cruises]
Het belang van artificiële harde substraten op de Noordzeebodem voor de ecologie van de ichtyofauna Een groot aantal vissoorten wordt aangetrokken tot artificiële riffen (bv. Arena et al. 2007, Fabi et al. 2002, Santos & Monteiro 2007) en een brede range aan omgevingsfactoren spelen hierbij een belangrijke rol. Oorspronkelijk werd gedacht dat de hoge densiteiten van vissen rond artificiële riffen een indicatie van een verhoogde productie waren. In 1983 werd dit niet langer zomaar aangenomen en ontstond het zogenaamde “attractie-productie debat” (Bohnsack 1985 & 1989, Brickhill et al. 2005). De huidige studie beoogt het vaststellen van attractie en/of netto productie van de ichtyofauna op de artificiële harde substraten (sokkels en stortsteenlaag) van de windmolens geplaatst op de Thorntonbank (Belgisch deel van de Noordzee). Bij dit doctoraatsvoorstel worden de mogelijke oorzaken die een invloed uitoefenen op productiviteit onderzocht. De ichtyofauna geassocieerd met het artificiële rif zal gekwantificeerd worden aan de hand van zowel visuele (visual census en camera-observaties) als vangstmethoden (warrelnetten en lijnvisserij). Voor een aantal modelorganismen zal gedetailleerde informatie verzameld worden over dieet, voedingshabitatten en bioenergetische waarden aan de hand van maaganalyses, vetzuuranalyses en stabiele isotopenanalyses. Verder zullen taggingexperimenten uitgevoerd worden om gedetailleerde informatie te verkrijgen over migratiepatronen. In the year 2008 the kick off for the construction of the first windmill farm at the Belgian part of the North Sea (BPNS) was given. Within a couple of years three windmill farms and more than a 100 windmills will be present in our North Sea waters. The foundations of these windmills will act as secondary artificial reefs, attracting different kind of fish species (Arena et al; 2007, Fabi et al. 2002, Santos & Monteneiro 2007). Initially, high densities of fishes present at artificial reefs where related to an increased productivity. In 1983 an alternative hypothesis, stating that artificial reefs attract fishes due to behavioral preferences but do not increase productivity, emerged (Bohnsack 1989). As many fish have a complicated life cycle and are highly migratory it is hard to quantify ‘possible’ net production. For this reason it is important to interpret the dimensions and distribution areas of the populations of fish species involved and to stipulate factors influencing structure (densities) and functionality (production versus dispersion) to quantify net production. This PhD study aims to determine attraction and/or net productions of the ichthyofauna on the artificial hard substrates of the wind turbines placed at the Thorntonbank. Nearby artificial hard substrates (ship wrecks) and sand banks without windmills will act as reference sites. The main goals are: • to follow-up evolution of fish communities, densities and biomass both on concession area as re

Shipflux [Project info]   [Cruises]

AS-MADE [Project info]   [Cruises]

Macrobenthos in permeable subtidal sediments [Project info]   [Cruises]
Structure and functioning of macrobenthic communities in permeable subtidal sediments 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).

Bioaccumulatie van micropolluenten   [Cruises]
Bioaccumulatie en effecten van micropolluenten in de voedselketen van het Schelde-estuarium. De biobeschikbaarheid van micropolluenten vanuit water en sedimenten is niet alleen sterk afhankelijk van de aanwezige concentraties, de water- en sedimentkarakteristieken in een aquatisch ecosysteem maar eveneens van de voedingswijze en de fysiologie van de organismen die erin voorkomen. In het Schelde-estuarium is een cocktail aanwezig van micropolluenten waaronder metalen, PCB’s, pesticiden, PBDE’s,… die opgenomen kunnen worden door de aanwezige organismen en uiteindelijk ook tot negatieve effecten kunnen leiden. Naast een gradient in verontreiniging van stroomop- naar stroomafwaarts is eveneens een saliniteitsgradiënt aanwezig in de omgekeerde richting. Het complexe samenspel van verontreiniging, verschillen in sedimentkarakteristieken en verschillen in saliniteit maken dat de biobeschikbaarheid van een polluent zelfs bij eenzelfde concentratie toch sterk kan verschillen van plaats tot plaats. Bovendien leven in een esturaium verschillende soorten organismen met verschillende plaatsen in de voedselketen en verschillen in voedingswijze. Filterfeeders, detrituseters, planktivore organismen, enz. Zullen allemaal op verschillende wijze polluenten opnemen. Bovendien bestaan er tussen groepen van organismen of zelfs tussen soorten van dezelfde groep grote verschillen in gevoeligheid en detoxificatiecapaciteit. De doelstelling van dit doctoraat is om in het Schelde-estuarium de distributie van verschillende polluenten in de voedselketen te karakteriseren, de effecten van omgevingsfactoren hierop te bestuderen en na te gaan in hoeverre veranderingen in tijd en ruimte (saliniteit, temperatuur, seizoen) hierop een invloed hebben in verschilende soorten.

monitoring underwater noise windmills   [Cruises]

Porpoise Monitoring [Project info]   [Cruises]

Fouling of natural hard substrata   [Cruises]
This MARELAC thesis (Ugent) will acquire background data on natural hard substrata fouling and will compare fauna attributes between the main gully between the Westhinder and the Oosthinder banks and gravel patches between large sand waves of the Oosthinder. These data will provide natural "background" information for the fouling of artificial hard substrata (windmills).

Invasieve kamkwal [Project info]   [Cruises]
De impact van de invasieve kamkwal Mnemiopsis leidyi in de Noordzee

Population phylogenomics PopPhyl [Project info]   [Cruises]
Population phylogenomics PopPhyl : linking molecular evolution to species biology. The PopPhyl project aims at understanding the evolutionary forces shaping genome content anddiversity in plants and animals. — Why are some genomes large, and some small ? Some GC-rich and some GC-poor ? — What determines the level of genetic polymorphism within species, the rate of divergence between species ? — Why is codon usage optimized in some, but not all genomes ? One of the reasons why we have not yet answered these questions is the taxonomic bias of genomic data bases : the large majority of available data concerns a handful of model organisms. The PopPhyl project will explore the transcriptome of 30 nonmodel plant and animal species, both within and between (closely related) species, thanks to very high-throughput techniques. These data will give access to estimates of the population genetic parameters (effective population size, mutation rate, recombination rate, selection coefficients, biased gene conversion) typical of each species, to be linked to species life history traits

De structurerende rol van biotische interacties [Project info]   [Cruises]
De structurerende rol van biotische interacties tussen verschillende grootteklasses voor het functioneren van mariene zeebodems. Dit project gaat na hoe de activiteit van macrobenthische ecosysteem-ingenieurs microniches creert, waardoor de samenstelling en diversiteit van de de microbiële gemeenschappen wordt beinvloed. De nadruk wordt hierbij gelegd op nitrificerende en denitrificerende bacteria en archaea. Belangrijke ecosysteemfuncties worden tegelijkertijd gemeten, waardoor een inzicht zal verworven worden in de directe relatie macrofauna – microbële gemeenschap – ecoysteemfuncties.

Windmolens als paaigebied en kraamkamer   [Cruises]
Windmolens als paaigebied en kraamkamer voor mariene vissoorten, project windmolens IV Windmolen studie van het ILVO.

Monitoring Paardenmarkt   [Cruises]
Monitoring Paardenmarkt - diving

Archaeological Atlas of the 2 Seas [Project info]   [Cruises]

Toxiciteit pseudo-Nitzschia   [Cruises]
Toxiciteit voor pseudo-Nitzschia soorten mosselen.

Monitoring macrobenthos   [Cruises]

Benthos monitoring BPNS ILVO   [Cruises]

Vangstscheiding tong & schol   [Cruises]
Discards in the sole fishery has been a problem for several decades due to the small mesh size in the cod-end of the trawl. This is reflected in the discarding many species of which plaice belongs to that species in which the highest proportion of discards is found. A catch separation during the capture process is the best option for the survival of these often unwanted bycatch. Separation of two flatfish species in a trawl is usually difficult because of the similar behavior. Sole and plaice differ quite strong in physical appearance and especially in stiffness of the body and sole has a stronger tendency to dive. This opens possibilities for catch separation with a horizontal separator panel. Preliminary tests with such a panel showed potential. The test gear is the beam trawl. In this trawl, a separator panel is fitted to experimentally determine the extent to which sole and plaice can be separated. Since this experiment is still in an early stage, day trips are ideal. As such, after a brief experiment at sea, the necessary adjustments to the net can be made. To investigate the separating capacity of the panel, the net is equipped with two cod-ends, one that collects the catch which is derived under the panel, and a second one that collects he catch which is guided above the panel. Of all commercial fish species in the catch, the length frequency is determined. For non-commercial fish and invertebrates, the volume is to be determined.

Pulsvisserij tong [Project info]   [Cruises]
Pulsvisserij: bepalen van de veiligheidsmarges voor mariene organismen en van de optimale puls voor het vangen van tong (Solea solea L.) De visserijsector in de Noordzee bestaat voor meer dan 90 % uit bodemsleepnetvisserij, waarbij tong en garnaal respectievelijk plaats 1 en 3 bezetten wat aanvoerwaarde betreft. Deze techniek veroorzaakt echter veel bodemberoering & grote hoeveelheden teruggooi wat resulteert in ecosysteemschade. Deze teruggooi, van bijvoorbeeld ondermaatste platvis, zorgt bovendien voor een daling van de stocks en dus van de quota van andere Belgische visserijen. Bovendien is het hoge brandstofverbruik een constante bedreiging voor de rentabiliteit van deze sector. Eén van de meest veelbelovende alternatieve visserijmethodes is de elektrische pulsvisserij. Voor de garnaalvangst werd door het ILVO reeds de Hovercran ontwikkeld, waarmee de bodemberoering, teruggooi en het brandstofverbruik drastisch verlaagd kunnen worden. Het gebruik van elektrische pulsen is op dit moment echter verboden omdat de effecten ervan op mariene organismen nog niet goed gekend zijn. Grondig onderzoek naar deze effecten is dan ook cruciaal om een legalisering en bredere commerciële introductie van dit vistuig mogelijk te maken. In het eerste luik van dit project zal bijgevolg de LD50 (dosis waarbij 50 % van de dieren sterft) en ID10 (de maximale dosis met minder dan 10 % extra letsels) bepaald worden voor een strategische selectie van mariene organismen. Ook voor de vangst van tong werd reeds een pulstuig ontwikkeld. Dit toestel beoogt echter een kramp- i.p.v. schrikeffect en de zwaardere pulsen die hiervoor vereist zijn, bleken reeds enorm schadelijk voor bijvoorbeeld kabeljauw. In het tweede luik van dit project zal dus op zoek gegaan worden naar een onschadelijke puls waarmee de tong selectief uit de bodem geschrikt kan worden, net zoals dit met de Hovercran voor de garnaal het geval is. Vervolgens zal de selectie mariene organismen blootgesteld worden aan de optimale tongschrikpuls teneinde letsels of gedragsstoornissen uit te sluiten, wat opnieuw moet toelaten een wettelijk kader voor het gebruik van deze techniek vast te leggen. Tot slot zal gekeken worden welk effect de elektrische pulsen hebben op de organoleptische eigenschappen (vleeskwaliteit) van de vis. Deze studie onderscheidt zich door zijn baanbrekend karakter op zowel fundamenteel als toegepast vlak. Zo is er nog bijzonder weinig gekend over de effecten van pulsvelden met een lage intensiteit op mariene organismen en werden er nog nooit LD50’s of ID10’s bepaald voor zo’n brede selectie organismen. Anderzijds zal een schrikpuls voor tongvangst geoptimaliseerd worden die het mogelijk zal maken de schadelijke effecten van de huidige platvisvangst sterkt te beperken en grotere winsten te genereren voor de Vlaamse visserijsector. Daarna zal ook gekeken worden naar de effecten van deze elektrische pulsen op het gedrag van mariene organismen. Illustratief voor de innovativiteit van dit proj

Multibeam Survey   [Cruises]

Ocean acidification and benthos [Project info]   [Cruises]
The effect of ocean acidification on the benthic ecosystem

diversiteit methaan bacterien [Project info]   [Cruises]
Exploring the diversity of methane-oxidizing bacteria in marine environments for industrial biotechnologie Methane oxidizing bacteria (MOB), or methanotrophs remove 30Tg of methane annually (range 15-45Tg Y-1; ± 6% of global emissions). In addition, these bacteria exhibit a wide range of growing conditions and contain key enzymes with a remarkably broad substrate specificity. Thanks to this versatile character they have a high potential for application in industrial biotechnology, including (i) geoengineering the climate by the fixation of methane from anthropogenic and natural gas to biomass and CO2, (ii) bioremediation of pollutants (eg chlorinated hydrocarbons , aromatic compounds, ... and production of economically relevant metabolites (eg single-cell proteins, ectoine, polyhydroxyalkanoates, .... Nevertheless, there are as yet no applications of MOB widely commercialized, mainly due to the lack of strains with the right properties such as high growth rate and high cell density. Isolation of new strains in this respect is required to expand our knowledge about methanotrophs. So far, most studies focused on terrestrial ecosystems, given the large annual methane emissions, however, marine ecosystems, which annually contribute for 1-20% of the total methane emission were always ignored. As a result little is known about the MOB diversity in these ecosystems. Yet marine systems offer several advantages with regard to biotechnology. Furthermore, knowledge about methanotrophs and their activities is important to understand the microbial mediation of the greenhouse gas methane under climate change and human activities in marine ecosystems.

Demersal Young Fish Survey   [Cruises]

biologische impact zandwinning op Hinderbanken   [Cruises]
Onderzoek naar de biologische impact van zandwinning in de nieuwe exploitatiezone op de Hinderbanken. In 1976 begon op het Belgisch deel van de Noordzee de extractie van marien zand en grind. De hoeveelheid gewonnen zand is sindsdien jaarlijks toegenomen en schommelt tegenwoordig rond de 2.500.000 m³ per jaar. Volgens de huidige regeling zijn vier zones afgebakend waarvoor vergunningen kunnen worden afgeleverd: (1) Thorntonbank en Gootebank, (2) Kwintebank, Buitenratel en Oostdyck, (3) Sierra Ventana en (4) Hinderbanken. De groep Biologisch Milieuonderzoek van ILVO-Visserij onderzoekt in welke mate het winnen van zand een invloed heeft op het ecosysteem. Daartoe worden kwantitatieve en kwalitatieve analyses uitgevoerd op het sediment en het bodemleven, teneinde variaties of trends op korte en lange termijn in diversiteit, densiteit en biomassa van het benthos waar te nemen in relatie tot de bodemsamenstelling en andere omgevingsvariabelen. Zone 4 op de Hinderbanken vormt hierbij een mooie case study omdat deze zone slechts sinds december 2011 geopend is voor zandontginning en het de eerste maal is dat er uitgebreide baseline studies en voor-impact studies gebeurd zijn. Zandwinning in deze zone gebeurt momenteel voornamelijk door de Vlaamse Overheid in het kader van het Masterplan Kustveiligheid. De eerste ontginning op de Hinderbanken is gestart in maart 2012 en beëindigd in juni 2012 waarbij in totaal 700.000 m³ zand ontgonnen werd dat momenteel te vinden is op het strand van Wenduine. Om de korte termijn impact van zandontginning op het benthisch ecosysteem van de Hinderbanken na te gaan, worden bodemstalen genomen vlak na het stopzetten van de ontginning.

Crangon valorisatie   [Cruises]
Onderzoek naar betere valorisatiemogelijkheden voor de grijze garnaal. Het leven aan land brengen van garnaal ten einde de processmogelijkheden te vergroten en te verbeteren.

Transfer of algal toxins to molluscs [Project info]   [Cruises]
Metabolisation and transfer of marine toxins from algae to edible molluscs The occurrence of toxic algae in the marine environment has significantly increased during the last decades. Filter-feeding shellfish such as mussels and oysters consume these algae leading to an introduction of the algal toxins into the food chain. In this way they may reach human consumers resulting in well-known poisoning effects. In particular, lipophilic algal toxins have been shown to exhibit the highest potency for shellfish contamination and food chain accumulation in Europe. The major environmental conditions that influence the algal toxin production with respect to their final fate in marine organisms remain however largely unknown. This information is urgently needed to allow risk evaluations of the ecosystem transfer and stability and consumer protection in terms of food contamination. Therefore, the major goal of this project is to gain more insight in the different processes that affect the life cycle of the lipophilic marine toxins in the North Sea region. To this end, the ecological factors that influence marine toxin production, both in terms of concentration and product profile, in the most important region-specific algae species (in particular Dinophysis sp.), will be evaluated. Subsequently, a characterisation of all relevant marine toxins and their metabolites in shellfish - as the primary consumer of algae - is envisaged. To realize these objectives, a sound analytical support, enabling both targeted quantification and untargeted screening of marine algal toxins and metabolites, using high-end mass spectrometric devices will form the basis.

WaTur   [Cruises]
WaTur (Water Turbidity) Investigating the capabilities of high-resolution MBES to quantify turbidity and detailed sediment processes in the watercolumn. Increase in knowledge on high-temporal and large-scale variability of suspended particulate matter in the Belgian coastal waters gaining new insights in the dynamic behaviour of high-concentration (mud) suspensions, in the associated turbulent flow dynamics in two dimensions, and this in relation to the bed

Ocean Sampling Day   [Cruises]

Mapping of Belgian coastal waters   [Cruises]
Combined effort of VLIZ, MUMM & Flanders Hydrography to map the entire Belgian continental shelf.

Monitoring zand- en grindextractie [Project info]   [Cruises]
Monitoring and mapping of the impact of sand and gravel extraction on the Belgian Continental Shelf and in the Belgian territorial sea This project aims to execute a continuous research on the effects of the exploitation of non-living resources of the territorial sea and the continental shelf on the sedimentary movements and the marine environment (Law of 13 June 1969 on the exploration and exploitation of non-living resources of the territorial sea and the continental shelf).

Biogeochemical behavior of pollutants [Project info]   [Cruises]
The main goal of this research is achieving a new understanding of biogeochemical processes of trace metals in sediments based on DGT (Diffusive Gradient in Thin Films) sampling in combination with 2 dimension high resolution imaging of trace metals and sulfide by Laser ablation ICPMS on the resin gels at a resolution down to 10 µm. The reason is that micro-scale processes in sediment porewaters play an important role in the mobilization/precipitation of the trace metals. The influence of humic and fulvic acids on these micro-scale processes will also be studied. The software Visual MINTEQ will be used to calculate the equilibrium composition of the porewaters and to predict precipitation/dissolution processes. A second objective is to study Hg and methylmercury (MMHg) biogeochemistry in sediment porewaters. First the characteristics and performance of DGTs including existing hydrogels and new mercaptopropyl resins for the determination of MMHg will be tested. Afterwards, the speciation of inorganic Hg and MMHg in sediment porewaters will be carried out. The third objective is to develop a new diffusive controlled passive sampler for determining dissolved organic pollutant concentrations in sediment porewaters. The actual passive samplers either do not use a diffusive controlled layer or use a ceramic tube both systems being not adapted for studying porewaters. In collaboration with COMOC (Ugent), flat macroporous layers will be synthesized using either exocasting or cryogels. With the latter method, the pore size is somewhat more variable but it is a very ecologic (green chemistry) process.

LifeWatch [Project info]   [Cruises]

Microplastics [Project info]   [Cruises]
MicroPlastics – Is it a threat for the 2 Seas area? Almost all aspects of daily life involve plastics, and consequently the production of plastics has increased substantially the last 60 years. Plastics are persistent materials, which tend to accumulate in the marine environment and affect marine life as they remain there for years. Plastic materials degrade to smaller macro- and microplastic (MP) particles, or can enter the environment as small fragments e.g. scrubbers. These basic plastic polymer MP cause particular problem when ingested by different organisms. Those particles also contain additives such as UV-stabilizers, colourings, flame retardants and plasticizers, which are transported by the particles and are susceptible for uptake and accumulation by living organisms. Not only the plastic additives may harm marine life (e.g. starvation), but also the additives and the chemical load of the particles may have an impact.It is already known that MP tend to sorb and accumulate chemicals (Persistent molecules and other molecules) from the water. Consequently, those particles are a source of contamination, transported through the water column. Finally those MP can be ingested by small marine organisms and the persistent pollutants can accumulate and be transported along the food chain. In the 2 Seas and France Manche area little is known about the impact of MP. In this MICRO-project, we will therefore analyse the problem and perform a risk assessment. Via modelling of the area, we will assess the potential hotspots of MP in the Region. For each country a hotspot will be assessed and will be rigourisly monitored. Samples will be taken in the different compariments of the ecosystem. As it is impossible to screen all residing animals, effects will be analysis on some sentinel species (key species). These species have been selected and effects will be assessed by different biochemical, fysiological and omics methods. Also the microbial load of the MP will be assessed. In contrast to pollution of the marine environment by plastic debris, only little information is available on the abundance of MP and macroplastics in the water column, on the seabed, on the sea surface and on the coastline. Besides, the extent and consequences of ingestion of MP by marine organisms is not known. Literature only provides preliminary results on some filter feeders. Another knowledge gap concerns the transfer of persistent organic polluents such as PCBs, PAHs, DDT, OCPs, PBDEs on MP. Those compounds may become orders of magnitude more concentrated on MP compared to the water column. Almost no information is available on the biological effects of MP and the release of the chemical load to marine life. Besides the risk assessment, also the impact will be assessed on some important activities of the region: Impact on Mariculture/aquaculture (Oyster), Tourism (Swimming water quality), Policy. Additionally the information about the microbial load will be explored t

Onderwatergeluid als stressor voor mariene vissen [Project info]   [Cruises]
Offshore windenergie draagt bij om 13% van de Belgische primaire energiebehoeften te produceren uit hernieuwbare energievormen tegen 2020. Intense impulsgeluiden worden gegenereerd tijdens het heien van monopaal funderingen en minder intens, continu geluid wordt gegenereerd tijdens de exploitatiefase. Onderwatergeluid kan het natuurlijke gedrag verstoren en fysische letsels veroorzaken bij zeezoogdieren en vissen. Recente studies veronderstellen tevens verminderde groei en levensvatbaarheid van viseieren en vislarven, tot zelfs directe sterfte in de nabijheid van de constructie zones. De 11de kwaliteitsdescriptor om goede milieuomstandigheden te onderhouden, gedefinieerd door de Kaderrichtlijn Mariene Strategie (MSFD), stelt dat de toevoer van energie, waaronder onderwatergeluid, is op een niveau dat het mariene milieu geen schade berokkent. De opportuniteit om de impact van deze twee soorten onderwatergeluid op de verschillende levensstadia van mariene, commercieel belangrijke vissoorten (zeebaars Dicentrarchus labrax, tong Solea solea, kabeljauw Gadus morhua) te onderzoeken, biedt zich aan tijdens de constructie en exploitatie van de windmolenparken aan de Belgische kust. Het onderzoek richt zich op de acute en chronische effecten die beide geluidsfasen uitoefenen op viseieren, -larven en juvenielen. De veldexperimenten zijn beperkt tot kooi-experimenten met juvenielen tijdens het heien. Gedurende verschillende tijdsperioden en op meerdere afstanden van het heiplatform worden de juvenielen blootgesteld aan het brongeluid (heien). De labo-experimenten bestaan uit het afspelen van opgenomen onderwatergeluid van beide geluidsfasen, hieraan worden de verschillende embryonale en larvale stadia en de juvenielen blootgesteld. De effecten worden ingedeeld in (1) verstoring van de ontwikkeling van viseieren, (2) verminderde groei en levensvatbaarheid van vislarven, (3) verstoring van het gedrag, (4) gehoorbeschadiging, (5) weefselbeschadiging en/of overlijden. De effecten bij de vissoorten worden onderling vergeleken en het belang van de geluidsparameters wordt onderzocht. Deze studie zal informatie geven over de impact van onderwatergeluid. Advies zal kunnen verleend worden aan de economische activiteiten die onderwatergeluid produceren om hun impact op het mariene ecosysteem te verminderen. Tevens zullen we helpen bij de realisatie van goede onderwatergeluidsgrenzen. 2.4.

Effect of permeability on ecosystem functioning   [Cruises]
The effect of permeability on ecosystem functioning We investigate how sediment permeability affects fluxes of oxygen and nutrients across the sediment water interface.

BENTHIS [Project info]   [Cruises]
Benthic ecosystem fisheries Impact Study BENTHIS will provide the knowledge to further develop the ecosystem approach to fisheries management as required in the Common Fisheries Policy and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. It will study the diversity of benthic ecosystem in European waters and the role of benthic species in the ecosystem functioning. Fisheries impacts will be studied on benthic organisms and on the geo-chemistry.

FISHCONNECT [Project info]   [Cruises]
We quantify the role of physical and biological constraints on the recruitment process and the realized dispersal of exploited marine flatfishes. Marine populations display some of the most extreme patterns of spatial and temporal heterogeneity in abundance, settlement rates and other demographic factors. Usually, simplified metrics and idealized models are used to describe their interactions. However, the combination of physical and biological information has been proven very effective, for instance to understand dispersal. We develop an Individual Biological Model coupled to a hydrodynamical model to test a range of hypotheses on the importance of factors either regulating or adapting connectivity on various spatial and temporal scales. The commercially exploited sole will be studied as a model for larval dispersal. Patterns and dynamics will be assessed in other exploited flatfishes (plaice, turbot and brill) in a comparative connectivity analysis. We will validate the model using empirical demographic and genetic data from the central and southern North Sea and eastern English Channel. The model will be used to predict the impact of natural and anthropogenic factors on marine population connectivity and resilience.

Hardwiring the ocean floor [Project info]   [Cruises]
Hardwiring the ocean floor: the impact of microbial electrical circuitry on biogeochemical cycling in marine sediments Although it is well known that microbial cells can exhibit sophisticated cooperative behaviour, none of the recent advancements in geomicrobiology has been so perplexing as the proposal that microbial populations are capable of fast, electrical communication over centimetre scale distances. This metabolic tour-de-force was recently documented from laboratory incubations with marine sediments. Clearly, the phenomenon is so thought provoking, and its consequences are so far reaching, that independent verification is absolutely needed. Recently, my research group has collected strong evidence that long-distance electron transport is not merely a laboratory phenomenon, but that it effectively happens under in situ conditions in marine sediments. These observations open a broad avenue for new research, since at present, we no understanding of the prevalence of long-distance electron transport in natural environments, let alone, its impact on biogeochemical cycling. In response, this ERC project proposes an in depth investigation into long-distance electron transport in aquatic sediments: when and where does it occur, which redox pathways and microbial players are involved, what is the effective mechanism of electron transfer, and what are its biogeochemical implications. Clearly, this idea of long-distance electron transport would add a whole new dimension to microbial ecology, radically changing our views on microbial cooperation. Yet, the consequences for carbon sequestration and mineral cycling in sediments and soils could even be more astounding, allowing an unprecedented flexibility in redox pathways. Since the same type of extracellular electron transport is at work in engineered systems like microbial fuel cells, it could also improve our understanding of such biotechnological applications.

Sand dynamics at small scale [Project info]   [Cruises]
The project MRN07 aims to evaluate the necessary time for partial or total burial of objects in shallow water (<50m depth) by studying the sand dynamics at a small scale on the BCS in both time and space domain. Several techniques will be used to reach this goal: time series of side scan sonar measurements will be performed, boxcores for validation of acoustic images will be taken and instrumented mines are deployed in strategic site to investigate small-scale variability of sand dynamics over long periods, 3 to 12 months each site. The areas of analysis will be chosen in the first instance by considering scientific criteria and then their economical and social value. In the range of areas with good scientific characteristics, it will be preferred to make measurements in sites densely populated by ships and fishermen. This choice is due to the fact that the research will be used for military and civil application regarding the safety of human life on the North Sea

SeArch [Project info]   [Cruises]

[Project info]   [Cruises]
Project name: MRN07: Study of sand dynamics at small scale to evaluate the risk of mine burial. The project MRN07 aims to evaluate the necessary time for partial or total burial of objects in shallow water (<50m depth) by studying the sand dynamics at a small scale on the BCS in both time and space domain. Several techniques will be used to reach this goal: time series of side scan sonar measurements will be performed, boxcores for validation of acoustic images will be taken and instrumented mines are deployed in strategic site to investigate small-scale variability of sand dynamics over long periods, 3 to 12 months each site. The areas of analysis will be chosen in the first instance by considering scientific criteria and then their economical and social value. In the range of areas with good scientific characteristics, it will be preferred to make measurements in sites densely populated by ships and fishermen. This choice is due to the fact that the research will be used for military and civil application regarding the safety of human life on the North Sea

Vlaamse Baaien [Project info]   [Cruises]

Shoreface nourishments [Project info]   [Cruises]
Shoreface nourishments as measure for coastal safety at the Belgian Coast” In het kader van het Geïntegreerd Kustveiligheidsplan (GKVP) werden per zwakke schakel in de kustverdediging verschillende alternatieven voor kustbescherming met elkaar vergeleken, en een optimale (combinatie van) maatregel(en) werd per gebied weerhouden. Op bepaalde locaties langsheen de kust zullen als gevolg hiervan in de komende jaren strand suppleties worden uitgevoerd. Deze dienen te worden onderhouden in geval van erosie, het geen te verwachten is, vandaar dat in de ontwerpen buffervolumes inbegrepen zijn. Bedoeling van dit project is het beoordeling van de bijdrage van onderwater suppleties tot onderhoudsbeperking en dus levensduurverlenging van strandsuppleties langs de Belgische kust zonder afbreuk te doen aan de kustveiligheid. De onderzoek wordt gemaakt door een vergelijken tussen gedrag en effecten van strand suppletie alleen een gecombineerd strand en vooroever suppletie naast elkaar aangelegd. Hiertoe zal een proefsuppletie in de zone Mariakerke uitgevoerd en bestudeerd worden door middel van numerieke modellen en meetgegevens die regelmatig tijdens de hele duur van het project op de suppletie en omgeving zullen verzameld worden. Meteo-mariene, hydrodynamische, sedimentologische en morfologische informatie zal tijdens duur (vijf jaar) van het project verzameld en geanalyseerd worden. Resultaten van deze analyse en van computer simulaties worden geïntegreerd voor het beoordelen van een aantal indicatoren doorwelke de bijdrage van de vooroeversuppletie op vlak van de verschillende te onderzoeken aspecten wordt geëvalueerd.

TECHVIS [Project info]   [Cruises]

Monitoring Broersbank [Project info]   [Cruises]
Vlaamse Baaien - Monitoring Broersbank De doelstelling van dit project is om de voortplanting, dissipatie en aangroei van golfenergie van offshore naar onze kust te bestuderen via waarnemingen met golfboeien (mogelijks aangevuld met waarnemingen van stromingen en golven geregistreerd met andere type instrumenten, bijv. ADCP) enerzijds en via numerieke modellering met een spectraal golfmodel anderzijds.

Cod Migrations [Project info]   [Cruises]
Spatial and temporal migrations of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) in the Belgian part of the North Sea and the Western Scheldt. In this project the migration ecology of Atlantic cod in a coastal area is investigated. Atlantic cod is known to make (extensive) movements between feeding and spawning/wintering grounds. The extension of the movements however varies between subpopulations. Movements can result in changes in the distribution of the stock. For fisheries management purposes it is crucial to know where fish move to and whey they do so. As Atlantic cod is species with high commercial value and the stocks are subject to high fishing pressure, it is important to monitor the population through their whole life cycle, to be able to take the correct management actions. We will focus on Atlantic cod present in the Belgian North Sea as little information is available on the potential wintering/spawning grounds.

foodwebs in coastal ecosystems [Project info]   [Cruises]
Structure, diversity & stability of foodwebs in coastal ecosystems This PhD research aims to analyse the mechanisms providing food webs resilience against stressors and perturbations. Within the Belgian part of the North Sea, food webs of reefs with a different complexity will be defined and the underlying structures of these food webs will be examined. In order to achieve this as many different species as possible have to be gathered from each reef, together with environmental data, sediment particulate organic matter and water particulate organic matter

MARVEN [Project info]   [Cruises]
The Marven Project investigates the impact of marine renewable energy device on marine life. All aspects of the life cycle of these marine renewable devices including sound vibration particle motion and electromagnetic fields are covered.

CleanSea [Project info]   [Cruises]
CleanSea - Towards a clean, litter-free EU marine environment through scientific evidence, innovative tools and good governance CleanSea zal op een unieke en interdisciplinaire benadering zwerfvuil bestuderen. Het project heeft tot doel nieuwe informatie over de effecten van zwerfvuil, monitoring protocollen en tools te genereren, en de impact van mitigatie strategieën en maatregelen te evalueren en het voorziet mogelijkheden te bieden aan beleidsmakers in de EU. Binnen CleanSea wordt het noodzakelijke onderzoek uitgevoerd, wordt kwalitatief geanalyseerd en wordt wetenschap op een transparante wijze doorgegeven om het beleid te informeren. Om de doelstellingen binnen CleanSea te bereiken werd het werk ingedeeld in 7 werkpakketten. ILVO is voornamelijk betrokken bij werkpakket 2 die de volgende onderzoeksluiken beschouwt: biologische impact, monitoring van afval, afval samenstelling, fragmentatie snelheden, standaard procedures en tools voor monitoring. Uiteindelijk zal een multiregionaal CleanSea platform gecreëerd worden voor de belanghebbenden om interacties mogelijk te maken gedurende het project tussen de verschillende werkpakketten en relevante stakeholders en dit in de vier verschillende mariene regio’s van Europa.

GA Genomics [Project info]   [Cruises]
GA Genomics - Diepduiken in de genomische diversiteit van(meta)populaties Landbouw en visserij steunt op of wordt beïnvloed (in positieve of negatieve zin) door populaties, zowel van specifieke planten (gewassen) of dieren (veeteelt, mariene soorten) of door zogenaamde metapopulaties bestaande uit verschillende micro-organismen. Deze (meta)populaties worden beïnvloed door en adapteren zich aan natuurlijke of antropogeen veroorzaakte omgevingsfactoren. Als gevolg hiervan kunnen deze populaties of metapopulaties specifieke eigenschappen vertonen die hetzij gewenst zijn zoals in het kader van gerichte veredeling of in het kader van het gunstig beïnvloeden van processen in landbouw en visserij (o.a. planten- of dierengezondheid, milieu- of klimaatvriendelijke landbouw en visserij), of ongewenst zijn zoals in het kader van het opduiken van invasieve of resistente soorten die processen in landbouw en visserij ongunstig beïnvloeden. In landbouw- en visserijonderzoek wordt bijgevolg dikwijls onderzoek gedaan naar het effect van omgevingsfactoren op de samenstelling en de functionaliteit van planten en dierenpopulaties en van microbiële gemeenschappen, alsook van de onderliggende mechanismen. In bepaalde gevallen kan deze kennis gebruikt worden om populaties van planten en dieren of metapopulaties van microbiële gemeenschappen zodanig te sturen dat zij ofwel de meest optimale ofwel de minst ongunstige biologische eigenschappen hebben. In andere gevallen wordt deze kennis gebruikt om beheersmaatregelen voor schadelijke organismen te ontwerpen of om micro-organismen te identificeren die contaminerende stoffen in de natuur kunnen degraderen. Hiermee betreden we het domein van de (meta)populatiedynamica, zowel qua samenstelling als functionaliteit. Op het ILVO wordt dit voor een aantal onderzoeksdomeinen momenteel onderzocht met eerder gerichte of klassieke technologieën die een partieel beeld geven van de onderzochte (meta)populaties. Met de recente opkomst van Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) technologieën (Genotyping-By-Sequencing (GBS), Targetted Resequencing, 16S metagenomics, Whole Genome Shotgun (WGS) metagenomics,) kunnen (meta)populaties nu echter op een efficiënte manier en met een hoge resolutie op samenstelling en functionaliteit gekarakteriseerd worden.

SPI baggerstorten en zandextractie   [Cruises]
Sediment Profile Imaging onderzoek in functie van Baggerstorten en Zandextractie. De biologisch milieuonderzoek groep voert al jaren onderzoek uit naar de impact van het storten van baggerspecie en zandextractie op het mariene ecosysteem. Hierbij focussen we ons onder andere op het bodemleven (benthos). De evaluatie van deze impact is tot nu toe gebasseerd op bodemstalen genomen met een Van Veen grijper. Dit heeft als voordeel dat er kwantitatieve data kan verzameld worden, maar als nadeel dat er geenvisuele informatie beschikbaar is over de bodemstructuur en- samengesteldheid. Deze karakteristieken kunnen perfect bepaald worden aan de hand van de SPI stalen,waarbij een foto genomen wordt van de bodemstructuur. Deze foto’s kunnen dan gebruikt worden om een beschrijving te maken van de sediment samenstelling, gelaagdheid en aanwezigheid van bodemstructuren (ribbels, kokerwormen, …). Binnen dit project willen we deze karakteristieken analyseren en evalueren in functie van de impact evaluatie van baggerstorten en zandextractie.

ICOS [Project info]   [Cruises]

Detection and isolation of harmful algae [Project info]   [Cruises]

Migratie van vissen in kustgebieden [Project info]   [Cruises]

Biodiversity patterns in zooplankton [Project info]   [Cruises]

Noordzee-observatorium [Project info]   [Cruises]

LIVIS   [Cruises]

ROV Survey   [Cruises]

Variability in benthic-pelagic coupling [Project info]   [Cruises]
Spatio-temporal variability in benthic-pelagic coupling and the role of macrobenthos

Effecten lossen baggerspecie [Project info]   [Cruises]

Verwondingen platvissen [Project info]   [Cruises]

Lossen baggerspecie [Project info]   [Cruises]

Monitoring Flinterstar   [Cruises]
Monitoring na scheepsramp met Flinterstar thv Zeebrugge

DMS cycle in the North Sea   [Cruises]
Study and modelling of DMSP production and its conversion into DMS by North Sea specific phytoplankton Dimethylsulphide (DMS) is a climatic gas affecting the global climate through the production of atmospheric aerosols. The ocean is the main natural source as dimethylsulphoniopropionate (DMSP), the DMS precursor, is mainly synthesized by phytoplankton and macroalgae. This project aims to improve the knowledge and modelling of dimethylsulphide production and its emission to the atmosphere in the coastal North Sea. The research strategy combines 3 approaches: laboratory-controlled experimentation with monospecies phytoplankton cultures, field measurements, mechanistic modelling. The DMSP cellular concentrations of key phytoplankton species isolated from the North Sea are measured by gas chromatography. These data will be synthesised and integrated in the mechanistic model MIRO-DMS. Thereafter, this model will be applied to the Southern Bight of the North Sea, and DMS(P) and phytoplankton simulations will be compared with field measurements obtained along a seasonal cycle. Once validated, the model will be analyzed for assessing biotic (phytoplankton diversity) and abiotic (temperature, light, salinity, nutrients, wind speed) controls of DMS production and its emission to the atmosphere.

e-DNA [Project info]   [Cruises]
Applications of environmental DNA in the Northsea as a non-invasive monitoring tool This projects aims to map biodiversity in the North Sea and its adjacent estuaries by means of an innovative and non-invasive method based on biomonitoring of DNA. The fundamental aim of the project is to develop and optimize the environmental DNA (eDNA) method. Initially we will focus on some key fish species: e.g. cod (Gadus morhua), eel (Anguilla anguilla) and plaice (Pleuronectes platessa) because of their economic importance, their role as bio-indicator or because they are listed as threatened species. In the second phase we want to monitor the macrobenthos and different species of jellyfish. To detect these we will develop and validate our own primers. Besides its use for biodiversity research we want to use the eDNA method as an ecotoxicology tool. Simultaneously with the sampling of eDNA we will take samples of important environmental variables (e.g. nutrients, pollutants, …). Coupling the biology with the physico-chemical data will allow us to investigate the effect of anthropogenic stressors on the abundance and distribution of marine species. To this end we will make use of habitat suitability models coupled to water quality models. Finally we want to demonstrate and communicate the importance of this new monitoring method to policy makers, fisheries and other stakeholders.

Overleving platvissen   [Cruises]
Het inschatten van de overlevingskansen van platvis na teruggooi in de boomkorvisserij in het kader van de uitzonderingsmaatregel van de aanlandingsplicht. Het project Overleving werd opgestart naar aanleiding van de aanlandingsplicht – ook wel discard ban genoemd – die door de EU gefaseerd wordt ingevoerd in het Gemeenschappelijk Visserijbeleid vanaf januari 2015. De aanlandingsplicht houdt in dat alle vangsten van soorten waarvoor een quotum wordt vastgelegd moeten worden aangeland, en dat geldt zowel voor maatse als ondermaatse vissen. De aanlandingsverplichting mag echter in geen geval leiden tot het verhogen van de vissterfte. Als wetenschappelijk kan aangetoond worden dat ondermaatse vissen de vangst, het sorteren en het overboord gooien kúnnen overleven, dan voorziet de wetgeving in een uitzonderingsmaatregel voor de aanlandingsplicht. Het doel van het project was dan ook om na te gaan hoe groot de overlevingskansen zijn van de belangrijkste doelsoorten van de Belgische visserij, de platvissen.

DISCAV   [Cruises]
The role of infaunal and epibenthic scavengers in the decomposition of fishery discards Beam trawl fisheries catch a wide variety of fish species and benthic invertebrates. The catches are sorted on-board and subsequently returned to the sea or discarded. While we know that discarded fish is eaten by a number of seabirds, there is very limited knowledge on the fate of a discarded fish, once it arrives at the sea floor. With the introduction of a new European legislation, the Landing Obligation, European fisheries managers envisage the elimination of discards of quota-regulated fish species. Several thousands of tonnes of discards will be extracted from the sea and brought to land. The new legislation will reduce the feeding opportunities of a vast range of benthic scavengers, assumed to feed on discarded fish on the sea floor. This could result in possible knock-on effects on competing scavenger populations, and requires understanding the decomposition of fisheries’ discards by various scavengers. This thesis will investigate the role of infaunal and epibenthic scavengers in the decomposition of discarded plaice, a quota-regulated species that dominates the beam trawl discards. A representative sample of infaunal benthic communities will be taken on-board the Research Vessel ‘Simon Stevin’ using Van Veen grabs. Key scavenger species of epibenthic communities will be selected and collected from at-sea trials using beam trawling. The infaunal benthic community and the key scavengers of epibenthic communities will be brought to the lab to set up a mesocosm experiment. This experiment is designed to investigate simultaneously (1) the effect of different faunal groups (scavengers versus non-scavenging infauna) on the decomposition process of the discarded fish, and (2) the effect of the discarded fish on the infauna.

The Hinderbanks [Project info]   [Cruises]

NATO ST Bio-database   [Cruises]
NATO Specialist Team in bio-databases (ST-bioDB) in Underwater warfare(UWW)

Vibrocoring   [Cruises]

FaCE-It   [Cruises]

TILES [Project info]   [Cruises]

Modelling biogeochemical cycling   [Cruises]
Modelling benthic-mediated biogeochemical cycling in an estuarine environment

INDI67 zeebodemkartering [Project info]   [Cruises]

WinMon [Project info]   [Cruises]
Several epibenthos/fish samples (diversity, density, biomass) will be taken with an 8m beam trawl for the continuous sampling program in the wind energy exploitation zones and in relation to MSFD obligations. More specifically the impact of hard substrates (windmills) and the absence of fisheries on the soft substratum fish and epifauna is investigated. Secondly the impact of fishing at the boarder of the concession zones (fringe effects) on these ecosystem components are investigated.

NewSTHEPS [Project info]   [Cruises]

Jerico-Next [Project info]   [Cruises]

LifeWatch Microbial Foodweb [Project info]   [Cruises]

Global change and copepods [Project info]   [Cruises]

Impact of piling noise on cod   [Cruises]
Impact of piling noise on Atlantic cod during windfarm construction How harmful is the noise produced by the construction of a wind farm at sea for Atlantic cod? This project aims to answer this question. With the construction of offshore wind farms, industrial activities increased significantly in the North Sea in recent years. The construction of wind farms generates powerful underwater noise, and underwater noise is potentially harmful for marine life. Different fish species are known to use wind farms as rest, feeding or reproduction areas. So extension of existing wind farms can cause potential problems for the local marine species communities. Although the interest in fish has grown for some years already, there are remarkably little experimental data available on the potential impact of underwater noise on fish during the construction stage, and certainly no data from field experiments. Atlantic cod is a fish species which uses wind farms as feeding ground and also as protection against predators. Atlantic cod is, however, under pressure because of overfishing, and is as such classified as ‘vulnerable species’. In Belgium, wind farms are closed for fisheries and as such th ese areas can contribute to the conservation and restoration of cod populations. However, it is possible that future piling activities in the Belgian part of the North Sea might have a negative impact on the cod present and thus further increase the pressure on cod populations. This project will, based on a cage experiment in the field, assess the potential impact of wind farm construction (piling) on cod. Three cages, each with a number of cod, will be hang out at increasing distance (50 m, 2 km, 17 km) of the piling activities. As such, cod will be exposed to different noise levels, which will allow to determine a threshold at which cod can be injured.

EPHEMARE   [Cruises]
EPHEMARE, targets (1) the uptake, tissue distribution, final fate and effects of microplastics in organisms representative of pelagic and benthic ecosystems, and (2) the potential role of microplastics as vectors of model Persistent Pollutants that readily adsorb to their surfaces. The European consortium includes experts in biological effects of marine pollutants at molecular, cellular, physiological and organismic levels, up to-date singular facilities for aquatic toxicity testing under strict conditions, and some of the world leading teams in microplastics research and incorporates capacity to communicate project findings to a range of audiences and stakeholders.

Valorisatie garnaal [Project info]   [Cruises]

SPM concentrations and Multibeam backscatter   [Cruises]
In situ appraisal of SPM concentrations and tidal related processes on MBES seafloor backscatter Within Europe’s Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), progress towards Good Environmental Status (GES) needs monitoring in a most time- and cost-effective way. For the GES descriptors 6 and 7, on seafloor integrity and hydrographic conditions, respectively, new integrative indicators (i.e. bottom shear stress, turbidity and seabed/ habitat type) need developing. To advance the mapping of seabed/habitat types, a Community of Practice (CoP) on seabed mapping will be established, investigating the main issues preventing joint mapping of the seabed. Within SEACoP (CoP on ‘Surveying for Environmental Assessments’) the following objectives are targeted: a) estimation of the precision, sensitivities and repeatability of the acoustic devices to detect changes in seabed/habitat types; b) quantification of the external sources of variance in the acoustic signature, including the influence of near-bed and water column suspensions on backscatter data; c) definition of best practice in ground-truthing the acoustic signal, with emphasis on visual techniques; and d) innovation in collaborative seabed mapping .

PLASTOX [Project info]   [Cruises]

PCAD4COD   [Cruises]

Estimating Seaway from Ship Motions   [Cruises]
The aim is to verify an algorithm for estimating the directional spectrum of seaway from measurements of ship motions. Such onboard wave estimates may serve as sea keeping aids but as well allow to get oceanographic data in regions where traditional wave buoys are rare. The measurements complement previous campaigns undertaken close to Cape Town on a vessel (Fathom 10) operated by the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) and in the German Bight on the Großherzogin Elisabeth by the Jade University of Applied Sciences Elsfleth. This allows to study the performance of the algorithm for different ship types and sizes and different wave climates. The ship will be equipped with different sensors recording motions in all six degrees of freedom. Cost-effective sensors intended for mass use are supplied by the Jade Hochschule, a sophisticated high precision system is supplied by FHR. Several trial runs at different relative angles between wave and ship and at different speeds are performed close to the wave buoy at Westhinder (or another directional wave buoy if more suitable). Taking the wave buoy data as a reference, the ship-based estimates are compared to the sea state.

Electrogene zwavel oxidatie [Project info]   [Cruises]

PLUXIN   [Cruises]

Moleculaire evolutie platwormen   [Cruises]
Molecular evolution and cophylogeny of rhabdocoel flatworms as a case study on the acquisition of endosymbiosis Living in close association with another, non-related species is a large evolutionary step for any kind of organism. This is reflected in the huge changes in body plan which accompany this shift towards a symbiotic life style. But also at the genetic level, this so-called symbiosis has several effects. For instance, in organisms as diverse as plants, insects, fishes, and birds a symbiotic/parasitic life style is apparently correlated with remarkably rapid and profound genetic changes. It is however uncertain whether such effects always occur in symbiotic or parasitic species of all organismal groups alike. In order to test for this, I will study mitochondrial evolution in three unrelated taxa of endosymbiotic flatworms, living in invertebrate hosts in European seas. For this purpose, I will compare the mitochondrial genome of the endosymbionts and their free- living relatives. A symbiotic lifestyle also largely influences the patterns of formation of new species. For instance, the speciation patterns in the endosymbionts might or might not reflect these of their hosts; other possibilities are for example that new species of symbiotic flatworms arise by colonising different host species, or that the same flatworm species is present in a large number of hosts. In order to investigate this, speciation patterns of hosts and endosymbionts will be compared in order to unravel in detail the evolutionary history of these intriguing animals.

HOTMIC   [Cruises]
Horizontal and vertical oceanic distribution, transport, and impact of microplastics Less than approximately 10% of the plastic entering the ocean can currently be accounted for, likely due to fragmentation into small microplastics (MP) unquantifiedby modern techniques or export from the surface ocean. It is not known how much plastic debris actually floats at the ocean surface, what mechanisms control plastic transport and fate from land to the deep sea, and what ecological impact this may have. The HOTMIC project seeks to address these knowledge gaps by focusing on a model land-ocean linkage between western Europe and the North Atlantic ocean gyre. The objective of HOTMIC is to map the distribution of MP, including particles < 10μm and microfibers,in water, sediment, and biota from coastal ocean to open ocean gyre to deep sea. This project will quantify processes controlling lateral and vertical transport of MP, including biofouling, (bio)aggregation, and deposition, for incorporation into global ocean models. To understand MP fate in the ocean, HOTMIC will examine microplastic weathering signatures during ocean transport, and evaluate the predominant mechanisms that create the weathering signature, including biological effects of bioshredding and ingestion. These objectives will besupported by a diverse suite of analytical techniques. In order to achieve comprehensive detection of MP particles < 10 μm and microfibers, HOTMIC will develop and optimize novel analytical methods based on a combination of non-destructive (Raman & FT-IR spectrometry, microscopy), and destructive techniques (hydrolytic depolymerization, HPLC, Py-GC/MS, EGA/MS). In addition, HOTMIC will develop Raman spectroscopy techniques for automated detection of MP incl. particles < 10μm and microfibers to greatly increase sample throughput, and 2D and 3D imaging of MP in biota. HOTMIC will use field and experimental measurements to understandtransport and fate of small MP and microfibers, and to evaluate the risks of these contaminants for marine environments and organisms

IAPF [Project info]   [Cruises]

PERSUADE [Project info]   [Cruises]

Bedform of the Dover Strait seafloor   [Cruises]
Enigmatic linear groove-and-ridge bed-form imprinted in the Dover Strait seafloor. During our investigations in the Dover Strait (Gupta et al., 2017), we discovered several sets of kilometer-long, parallel streamlined ridge-and-groove bedforms. Individual ridges and grooves are generally up to 30 m wide, with amplitudes ranging between 0.5 and 1.2 m. Their lengths are unknown, as sand dunes and other sedimentary bodies cover large parts of them. These features are oblique to Holocene sedimentary bodies. Hence, they are not in equilibrium with the current flow field of the Strait. They should thus have been formed prior to the Holocene marine transgression. Importantly, most of these features are located within the ~20-km-wide, NNE–SSW-oriented, bedrock incised palaeovalley known as the Lobourg Channel. Some of them are however located outside (and truncated by) this channel, indicating that the erosional/sedimentary process(es) that formed these features happened more than once. All ridge-and-groove bedforms have a consistent ENE–WSW alignment, sub-parallel to the axis of the Lobourg Channel. The origin and age of these parallel linear features remain unknown due to the lack of sedimentary and geophysical data. Currently, we interpret them as bedrock-eroded longitudinal grooves carved by megaflood flow(s) generated in the southern North Sea – eastern English Channel during Middle and/or Late Pleistocene Glaciations. This interpretation is based on their similarities to longitudinal scours identified in megaflood-eroded terrains of Washington State (USA) and Australia (Baker and Nummedal, 1978; Wohl, 1993). It is also supported by the presence of several other erosional features carved within the Lobourg Channel typically found in megaflood-eroded terrains (Collier et al., 2015; Gupta et al., 2017). The objective of this geophysical investigation is therefore to collect very high-resolution bathymetric data, high-resolution seismic-reflection data, and sedimentary grabs from these features to confirm that they are not sedimentary features, but bedrock-incised bedforms. We also aim to unravel how and when these features formed to verify their relationship to the occurrence of megaflood events in the English Channel and southern North Sea during Middle and/or Late Pleistocene glaciations.

Community transcriptomics   [Cruises]
Community transcriptomics in de Noordzee – Kunnen we dit gebruiken? Een fundamentele vraag in de ecologie is hoe levensgemeenschappen beïnvloed worden door hun omgeving. Klassieke analyses correleren soortendiversiteit en -abundanties met (a)biotische parameters, terwijl de genetische diversiteit vaak wordt genegeerd. Een relatief nieuwe methode om gemeenschappen te bestuderen is via community transcriptomics, een genomische techniek die naar genexpressie op het niveau van een levensgemeenschap kijkt. In dit project exploreren we de voor en nadelen van deze techniek, waarin we de vergelijking maken met de klassieke methoden en deze methode uitproberen in het labo aan de hand van een planktongemeenschap uit de Noordzee. Bachelorproef GhenEcotox

Environmental Omics of marine zooplankton species [Project info]   [Cruises]

Perfluor bioaccumulation   [Cruises]
Perfluor bioaccumulation in the coastal waters in front of the Westerschelde The main purpose of this research is to test if there is perfluor bioaccumulation in biota from the North Sea. Furthermore, we want to investigate if there is a gradient in perfluor exposure along the Western Scheldt towards the North Sea. To do so, four sample locations are selected (map below) starting with the first site located in the Western Scheldt near Vlissingen. The other three sites are located further South-West. To test if bioaccumulation occurs, it is necessary to sample biota of different trophic levels.

Mixotrophy in ecosystem dynamics [Project info]   [Cruises]
This thesis project will combine the development and the application of an ecosystem model including the integration of mixotrophy processes. The mathematical developments will allow to take into account the different types of mixotrophic organisms in an already existing ecological model which currently describes the functional groups in a classical way (autotrophic vs. heterotrophic). The model developed will be applied to a 3D model of the North Sea and validated before being applied for future scenarios. Field samples will be collected in the studied area and genomic data of plankton diversity will be analysed to study the importance of mixotrophic organisms in the North Sea and also used for model validation.

BeRMS [Project info]   [Cruises]

Coastbusters   [Cruises]
Coastbusters - Development of ecosystem based protection against coastal erosion Het project consortium onderzoekt de effecten van de aanleg van biogene riffen op kustbescherming. Deze natuurlijke structuren zorgen namelijk voor een reductie in golfwerking en stroming. Deze vorm van “building with nature” wordt reeds op verschillende locaties toegepast, maar de aanzet tot vorming en de verdere aangroei van deze riffen verloopt zeer traag. Het innovatieve aan Coastbusters is het gebruik van nieuwe technieken, waaronder aquacultuurmethoden, om deze riffen voldoende snel te laten aangroeien. Met het oog op duurzaamheid wordt voor sommige installaties biodegradeerbaar materiaal gebruikt. De effectiviteit van de riffen wordt geëvalueerd op basis van tests met zeewier, zeegras, schelpdieren, (oesters en mosselen) en schelpkokerwormen, in monocultuur of gecombineerd. De soorten die gebruikt worden voor de aangroei van dergelijke biogene riffen zijn zo gekozen dat de gebruikte methodes met kleine modificaties bijna wereldwijd kunnen gebruikt worden. De ontwikkeling verloopt gefaseerd, van een literatuurstudie en inventaris van initiatieven tot productontwikkeling, labo-experimenten, kleinschalige substraattesten op locatie tot een grootschalige uitrol. In die laatste fase zullen de effecten op zandtransport en het leven op en rond deze biogene riffen geëvalueerd worden. Het onderzoek moet leiden tot een effectieve duurzame manier van kustbescherming, die ook commercieel kan toegepast worden.

North Sea Wrecks   [Cruises]

Combituig   [Cruises]
Innovatieve technische innovaties in de boomkorvisserij om de bijvangsten te reduceren en overleving te verbeteren. (Combituig) De invoering van de aanlandplicht vormt een grote uitdaging voor de Belgische visserij sector aangezien deze voornamelijk een gemengde boomkorvisserij beoefent. Om de sector bij te staan in het omgaan met de aanlandplicht beoogt het project ‘Combituig’ via de ontwikkeling en verfijning van technische innovaties de vangst van knelpuntsoorten en ander bijvangst in de boomkorvisserij te reduceren en de overleving te verbeteren. Hiervoor werden 3 trajecten uitgewerkt: - Traject A zal innovaties testen die moeten voorkomen dat knelpuntsoorten en ander bijvangst het net binnenkomen. Mogelijke opties hier zijn het gebruik van licht of mechanische stimuli in de boomopening om rondvis te verjagen. - Traject B focust op het verbeteren van de selectiviteit van het net, door gebruik te maken van (een combinatie van) panelen en andere soorten netmateriaal en maasgroottes om zo de gevangen knelpuntsoorten en andere bijvangst te laten ontsnappen. - In Traject C wordt nagegaan welke aanpassingen mogelijks de overleving verbeteren zoals bvb. wanneer een aanzienlijke reductie van het vangstvolume gerealiseerd wordt, en zal het verschil in overleving getest worden. Ook het effect van de trekduur, sorteertijd, de organisatie aan boord en de omgevingsparameters op de overleving zal hierbij bekeken worden. De innovaties aangebracht vanuit de sector en ILVO, die door vissers en wetenschappers het meest beloftevol bevonden worden, zullen getest en doorontwikkeld worden aan boord van commerciële vaartuigen. Evaluatie zal gebeuren d.m.v. selfsampling door de bemanning, gevolgd door een uitgebreide vangstanalyse door opstappers van ILVO. Daarnaast kan het potentieel van bepaalde vernieuwingen ook aan boord van onderzoekingsvaartuigen onderzocht worden. Voor het evalueren van aanpassingen die mogelijks de overleving verbeteren zullen specifieke zeereizen voorzien worden om de verbetering in overleving te testen en extra parameters te registreren. Het project beoogt een intensieve communicatie met en sterke participatie van de sector. Via de intensivering van de Kenniskring “Innoverend Vissen” en overleg- en planningsmomenten met geïnteresseerde vissers, reders en Rederscentrale zal het project gestuurd worden en zullen alle bevindingen en resultaten gecommuniceerd worden met en naar de rest van de sector. Er zal tevens internationaal afgestemd worden om kennis te delen en middelen efficiënt in te zetten, in het bijzonder met de Nederlandse sector die met dezelfde problematiek kampt. 4. synthese: wat is het effect van de omschakeling van boomkorvisserij naar pulsvisserij op de bijvangsten van ondermaatse vis en de nadelige impact op het benthisch ecosysteem? Mogelijke onderzoekspistes zijn scheidingspanelen, benthos ontsnappingspanelen, toepassingen met licht in het net, grotere mazen, camerawerk om het gedrag van vissen beter te l

Temperatuurseffect energiemetabolisme Temora   [Cruises]
temperatuurseffecten op het energiemetabolisme van de copepode Temora longicornis. Temperatuurseffect energiemetabolisme T. Longicornis

JOMOPANS   [Cruises]
Joint Monitoring Programme for Ambient Noise North Sea The aim of this project is to develop a framework for a fully operational joint monitoring programme for ambient noise in the North Sea. Output will be the tools necessary for managers, planners and other stakeholders to incorporate the effects of ambient noise in their assessment of the environmental status of the North Sea, and to evaluate measures to improve the environment.

flatfish in windmillparks   [Cruises]
Effecten van offshore windmolenparken op de ecologie en verspreiding van platvissoorten in het Belgisch deel van de Noordzee (P Offshore wind farms are built at an enormous rate in European waters to meet with the imposed targets for renewable energy production. The introduction of hard structures and their scour protection layers in an otherwise sandy environment such as the Belgian part of the North Sea entails various opportunities for reef-associated species. However, it is also thought to impact the marine environment in a negative way through e.g. sound pollution, changes in hydrological and light conditions and the introduction of electro-magnetic fields. Therefore, it is of vital importance to study the influences of this newly introduced habitat on commercially important species that are not directly associated with reef-like structures. This research will study the impacts of offshore wind farms on the ecology and distribution of autochthonous demersal fish species in the (Belgian part of the) North Sea, with a clear focus on comparing health condition indices of flatfish between locations in- and outside a wind farm and an emphasis on the implications for the flatfish fisheries in general. This way, we want to elucidate the effects of blue growth, in terms of offshore renewable energy, on the marine environment in a wider North Sea context.

Palaeolandscape Scheur   [Cruises]
In recent years very unique prehistorical palaeontological material has been found in in de Scheur off Zeebrugge (eg walrus, wood elephant, primal whale, beluga). Reliable dating of the bone material is very problematic, and a palaeolandscape approach is crucial in order to correctly place these findings not only in time but also with regard to the environment (i.e. landscape). This project is closely linked to the so-called 'Zeebrugge project' commissioned by MOW, where a geological and paleogeographical study of the Zeebrugge (offshore) region is undertaken in the framework of Vlaamse Baaien. Using both high-res seismic data and shallow vibrocore data the palaeolandscape of de Scheur will be mapped (middle/late Quaternary period). The possible use of innovative analysis techniques such as sedimentary DNA will be investigated, in close collaboration with UK colleagues (Univ. Bradford, Doggerland project).

Native oysters   [Cruises]
How native oyster aquaculture and restoration can enhance each other One of the main considerations, before restoration and aquaculture activities of native oysters are set in motion,is the presence of the Bonamia ostreaprotozoa. Bonamia is believed to have been introduced in Europe through movements of oysters from California (Compsetal.1980). When introduced to naïve populations, bonamia can cause over 90% mortality by multiplying in the oyster’s haemocytes (Cullotyetal.2007). The Berlin declaration by the Nativ eOyster Restoration Alliance (NORA2017) States ‘Respectf or bonatnia-free areas ’as one of the six main restoration recommendations. An evaluation of the ‘Spuikom’, a historic in shore oyster production site in Ostend, Belgium showed presence of B. ostrea in2008 (VLIZ 2011). The vicinity of infected oyster populations, in for example the Oosterschelde, also increases the risk of B. ostrea outbreaks in Belgian maritime waters. Objective3 will therefore verify the presence of Bonamia in the BNS by evaluating offshore and nearshore spat specimen of O. edulis (i), bottomsamples (ii) vectorspecies (iii) and watersamples (iv). Watersamples will be analysed on the presence of bonamia DNA particles, using the novel environmental DNA (eDNA) technique.

Palaeolandscape southern North Sea   [Cruises]
Palaeolandscape and archaeological potential of the southern North Sea The main goal of this project is a reconstruction of the late Quaternary palaeolandscape in the southern North Sea (palaeo-fluvial system, proglacial lake, Holocene drowning) and the relation to possible prehistoric human occupation. In April 2018 a first seismic reconnaissance survey (Belgica 2018/09) was carried out in the larger Brown Bank area which resulted in a unique dataset of unprecedented quality. A follow-up seismic survey with RV Belgica has been requested for spring 2019 (May-June) which a.o. focuses on detailed seismic investigations in certain sub-areas. The main aim of this 2019 Simon Stevin campaign is to take vibrocores on a number of well-chosen locations (also based on the new Belgica data). In view of the high accuracy and resolution of the seismic data dynamic positioning during coring is crucial. During the night additional seismic data (sparker, SES Quattro) will be recorded (possibly also simultaneous with multibeam). The use of innovative core analysis techniques, such as sedimentary ancient DNA (sedaDNA), will be investigated in close collaboration with colleagues in Belgium and the UK (Univ. Bradford, Doggerland project).

TIMBERS   [Cruises]

Seabass   [Cruises]
Understanding the movement behaviour of European sea bass in the Southern North Sea is imperative to understand its habitat use and population structure and identify conservation needs. Using acoustic data storage tags (ADST), we can reconstruct individual location, depth and temperature histories, making use of the LifeWatch receiver network. This project aims to map spatiotemporal variation in habitat useand migration patterns of European seabass.

Anisakidae in Belgian fish   [Cruises]
Occurrence of Anisakidae in Belgian fish Anisakidae are marine nematodes occurring worldwide in a wide range of fish species. The consumption of raw infected fish can cause abdominal complaints and allergic reactions. Additionally, this parasite causes economic problems for the fishing industry associated with the removal of these larvae. The last research into the occurrence of Anisakidae in Belgium dates back to 1999. Our aim is to gather new data on the occurrence of Anisakidae in fresh fish on the Belgian market. Preliminary results of sampling at wholesale companies show indeed a high occurrence of these larvae in filets which reach the consumer. Because the Belgian North Sea is an important source of fish for our market, we want to investigate the occurrence of these larvae, their species and potential risk factors on an annual basis.

DISARM [Project info]   [Cruises]

Vlaamse Banken   [Cruises]
Detailed subsurface exploration of sandbanks to improve the reliability of the quantitative evaluation of the resource in extraction zones

PROBIO   [Cruises]
PROspection for BIOactive compounds in the North Sea

Metatranscriptomics of plankton   [Cruises]
Metatranscriptomics of plankton in the Belgian Part of the North Sea

Habitat protection installing offshore windfarms   [Cruises]
Protecting the marine environment within the Habitat area while installing offshore wind farms. Tijdens dit project wordt nagegaan hoe de mariene omgeving niet negatief beinvloed kan worden bij de installatie van toekomstige windmolenparken in het Habitatgebied van de Vlaamse Banken. Tevens zal worden nagegaan of de installatie van windmolenparken zodanig kan gebeuren dat de bestaande natuurwaarden versterkt kunnen worden. This projects investigates how future offshore wind farms, planned in the Habitat area of the Vlaamse Banken, can be constructed without a negative impact on the marine environment. In addition, research will focus on modalities that can improve the currrent status of the natural capital in the area.

Evolution of a beach nourishment   [Cruises]
Evolution of a large nourishment at Knokke coastal area

PlasticFLux   [Cruises]

Acoustic Habitats   [Cruises]
Mapping the soundscape of the Belgian coastal waters to identify acoustic habitas and their ecological function The aim of this research is to obtain knowledge on the sound ecology of the Belgian part of the North Sea (BPNS), which is a heavily exploited area and comprises a unique sand bank system. Shipwrecks are distributed across the BPNS and can function as biodiversity hotspots. Four acoustic recorders will be deployed at strategic places to address the following research questions: 1) How can we characterize and map the acoustic environment in the Belgian part of the North Sea? 2) What sound sources can be identified and how do they contribute to the general acoustic environment? 3) Can the acoustic complexity be linked to benthic habitats to define acoustic habitats? 4) Can the underwater sound be linked to ecological and biodiversity values?

Marine environment and installing windfarms [Project info]   [Cruises]
This projects investigates how future offshore wind farms, planned in the Habitat area of the Vlaamse Banken, can be constructed without a negative impact on the marine environment. In addition, research will focus on modalities that can improve the currrent status of the natural capital in the area.

Microplume   [Cruises]
Recent modelling has shown that the gross primary production of the North Sea may have decreased by as much as 8% due to the construction of offshore windmill farms. The increased presence of filter feedingorganisms would be to blame for this drop in productivity.It is known from previous research (Delphine Coates; Matthias Baeye) that the Belgian offshore windfarms influence the suspended matter. Fine particles that are trapped by the epibenthosare washed out by strong currents (neap tide), creating sediment plumes and the deposition of fine sediments in the wake of pylons. To date, noone has investigated whether these sediment plumes are also characterized by different microbial communities. With this pilotproject, we want to measure whether filterfeeding by epibenthic communities has a significant influence on the phytoplanktonand whether or not the bacterial composition is affected

Electrified sediment ecosystems   [Cruises]
Biogeochemical cycling, redox transformations and microbial actors in electrified sediment ecosystems

Turbine impacts on benthos   [Cruises]
Assessing the spatial extent of turbine-related impacts on the surrounding soft-sediment benthos: monopiles vs. jackets. The permanent presence of introduced artificial structures such as wind turbines result in a modification of the habitat, by means of altered local environmental conditions (changes in hydrology, granulometry and food availability) and the associated macrofaunal communities. In addition, these structures provide surface area for colonizing epifaunal communities, which could intensify these changes by influencing particle -and organic matter fluxes and local biodiversity. It is however expected that the spatial extent of these effects will depend on several factors such as i) local conditions (water masses and bottom currents, sediment type,..), ii) turbine type (surface area and material, scour protection,…) and iii) the turbine-specific epifaunal communities. Therefore, we aim to characterize (physico-chemical habitat parameters and biological communities) in the immediate vicinity of different turbine types at several distances in wind farms that have been operational for at least six years (expected time for stable epifaunal communities to develop) and that differ in terms of local conditions.

Hyperbenthos in windfarms   [Cruises]
Investigating the potential impacts of offshore windfarms on hyperbenthic communities: an underrepresented ecosystem component Despite their important role in bentho-pelagic coupling, hyperbenthic communities are recently understudied within the Belgian part of the North sea. However, due to their analogy with macrobenthic communities in terms of distribution patterns and seafloor dependence (sediment type and food availability), it is expected that turbine-related habitat alterations will also affect this ecosystem component. It is proposed that the induced changes could create more favourable conditions for pelagic species and attract mobile species, resulting in richer hyperbenthic communities within offshore wind farms (OWFs). In addition, differences in local conditions and turbine type are also likely to influence the spatial extent of these effects. Therefore, the aim of this study is to sample (environmental variables and hyperbenthos) within two OWFs (C-power, Belwind) and outside the OWFs to i) characterize hyperbenthic communities within these offshore areas with scarcer food supply and strong hydrodynamic conditions and ii) to assess potential impacts of wind turbines on these communities. The obtained insights will result in a more comprehensive view of wind turbine-related habitat alterations and their effects on benthic communities (macrobenthos and hyperbenthos). At last, we would also like to sample at Norther (monopiles, operational end of summer 2019). This park is situated closer to the coastline and conditions are characterized by finer sediments, higher food availability and weaker bottom currents. By integrating this park within the study, reference samples can be used to assess whether these factors are indeed important to harbor richer communities and to validate the earlier described onshore-offshore gradient (onshore: Norther, intermediate: C-power, offshore: Belwind) in terms of distribution (abundances and diversity). In addition, potential short-term (T1) effects of wind turbines can also be described.

AiUV   [Cruises]