Macrobenthic intraspecific diversity patterns in a lagoonal complex and their correlation with microbial community functioning

Type: 
Master Thesis subject (30 ECTS)
programme: 
EMBC+
Lagoons are considered as highly dynamic ecosystems, which experience severe fluctuations in their physicochemical variables, hydrology and material inflows. The Mediterranean lagoons often suffer from dystrophic crises, when oxygen consumption rates can be tremendously high, caused by the extreme concentrations of organic matter and microbial activity. Traditionally, the ecological quality of lagoonal ecosystems has been assessed through their macrobenthic component. However, recent studies have shown that the abundance of macroorganisms is in fact not comparable with the one of microorganisms; thus, their importance should be acknowledged in studies investigating the functional aspect of certain ecosystems. Microorganisms are instrumental to the structure and functioning of marine ecosystems due to their essential part in the cycling of the elements and in the recycling of the organic matter. Although classified among the most productive habitats, lagoons experience a number of human activities which along with the natural disturbance are shaping the environmental conditions of the ecosystems. An effort to assess the ecological status of these habitats by means of ecological health / biodiversity indices has been made in Europe after the establishment of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). This thesis project will attempt the combination of the different levels of biological diversity in an lagoonal ecosystem (Amvrakikos Gulf, Ionian Sea, Western Greece), taking into consideration the non-random co-occurrence of certain taxa, whether this may refer to species, haplotypes or operational taxonomic units. Molecular techniques will be used, uncluding high throughput sequencing and Sanger sequencing, as well as taxonomic identification of the main macrobenthic organisms.
prerequisites: 
Experience on molecular biology techniques and on taxonomic identification of macrobenthic organisms will be appreciated.
Number of students: 
2
academic year: 
2016-2017
Contact person email: 
contact person first name: 
Christina Pavloudi
Other people involved: 
Katerina Vasileiadou <kvasileiadou@hcmr.gr>
Institutes Involved: 
Reference Number: RP-39761