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

A symposium organised by the Westbanks consortium and the Marine Board Working Group on Marine Protected Areas (ESF)

More information?

The Belgian Continental Shelf (BCS) is characterized by numerous subtidal sandbanks. Their parallel, close position to the coastline and the shallowness of the area make them unique. The biological features of the BCS were studied intensively during the framework of the Belgian Sustainable Development Programmes. The projects highlighted the great significance of the Western Coastal Banks area from a biological point of view: The area harbours a very rich macrobenthic community, is an important foraging area for seabirds and nursery ground for juvenile fish.

WestBanks will build on the expertise and knowledge concerning structural and functional characteristics of the higher trophic levels (benthos, fish and birds). The project will focus on structuring processes and interactions on the species and population level situated at the sediment, water and air interface of the marine ecosystem.

Final goals:
    Protection of important key-species:provide information on biodiversity-ecosystem functioning link
    Fisheries managment: role of Lanice-reefs in sustaining fish populations
    Dispersal modelling + molecular input: gather information on the resilience of key-species to disturbances
    Develop monitoring tools for top predators

WestBanks is a co-operation between five Belgian institutes (UGent, KULeuven, MUMM, INBO and VLIZ) and one Dutch institute (NIOO-CEME).
The project started the 15th of decembre 2006 and is carried out in the framework of the SSD Science for Sustainable Development research action of the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office.

Westbanks ecosystem structure Sandbanks of BCS Solea solea Lanice conchilega reef Sterna sandvicensis

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