Behavioural response to thermal stress in the micro-world: Tracking marine nematodes using video-analysis

Internship position (12 ECTS)
Oceans and Lakes
Increased sea surface temperatures have been reported the last decades as a main consequence of global climate change. Although organisms develop plasticity towards stress, extreme change of the environmental conditions can eventually alter population dynamics and ecosystem functioning. Marine nematodes are the most abundant benthic organisms, and due to their short life span, they are an excellent taxon for the investigation of benthic responses to such stress conditions. In this project, we will investigate the effects of temperature changes on the ecology of marine nematodes, more specifically their foraging behaviour, with in vivo microcosm experiments. Specifically, we will investigate their behavioural response via tracking their motility and their food selectivity. We focus on three closely related nematode species with different tolerance limits to temperature. We will test the way they react when offered specific food sources (e.g. different bacterial strains or abundances) under different temperature regimes, by focusing on their motility and taxis towards food. In this way we aim to investigate: i) whether there is a differential food selectivity of these nematode species, and, more importantly, ii) whether this preference is affected by changes in temperature conditions. The practical work involves observations under binoculars, video-recordings of nematode behaviour and the concomitant analysis of video-images using specific software.
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prof. Dr. Tom Moens
Reference Number: RP-48071