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Functional aspects of marine biodiversity. The impact of differences and changes in species diversity and genetic diversity on relationships in benthic communities and the energy transfer and productivity in food chains of major coastal Atlantic and Baltic ecosystems

Originele titel: Functionele aspecten van mariene biodiversiteit. De impact van verschillen en veranderingen in soortendiversiteit en genetische diversiteit op relaties in benthische gemeenschappen en de energietransfer en de productiveit in voedselketens van grote Atlantische en Baltische kustecosystemen
Referentie nr.: OND1290722
Periode: Januari 2001 tot December 2006
Status: Afgelopen

Thesaurustermen: Benthos; Biodiversiteit; Energieoverdracht; Genetische diversiteit; Soortendiversiteit
Geografische term: ANE, Nederland, Westerschelde [Marine Regions]

Instituut  Top 
  • Koninklijk Nederlands Instituut voor Onderzoek der Zee; NIOZ Yerseke, meer, secretariaat

In the Baltic species numbers are low in comparison to the nearby North Sea. Irrespective of the low species diversity, the structure and length of the food webs in the North Sea and the Baltic are comparable. What is the importance of high biodiversity in an ecosystem if no difference with low diversity systems, when expressed in energetic terms, can be observed? For some dominant species, such as the clam Macoma balthica, an invasion of Atlantic ecotypes (races) from the North Sea into the Baltic was observed, replacing endemic ecotypes. What will be the consequences, if any, for the functioning, structure or stability of the present ecosystems if the change in distribution and genetic traits of dominant species will continue and become widespread?
The project will focus on:
- a comparison of the present species diversity and intraspecific genetic diversity of benthic communities in the Atlantic and the Baltic, in connection with
- estimates of food chain length and energy transfer in the corresponding systems and
- the impact of changes in the biodiversity on the structure and function of the benthic communities and energy transfer in the systems.
Following up the first experiments in 2001, indicating that invading races of prey (clams) are more preyed by predators (crabs, shrimps) than the endemic races of prey, further experiments wild be carried out, including field systems and flow-through systems in the laboratory. Baltic clams or other dominant species as mussels, are removed from, or additionally introduced into, the sediment. The experiments will be carried out in the Westerschelde and the Baltic, in sediments of comparable sorting. The Westerschelde is chosen in order to meet similar salinity ranges. The following parameters will be determined:
1) species composition of meio- and macrozoobenthos (do some specific species profit or suffer from the changes, is there a change in functional groups as deposit versus suspension feeders),
2) the production and performance of dominant species (numbers, biomass, length-growth, production, respiration),
3) changes in pathways and turn-over rate of organic matter through isotope measurements

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