The combined effect of jellyfish blooms and aquaculture operations on seafloor ecosystems in Norwegian fjords.

Master Thesis subject (30 ECTS)
Ocean health is declining due to a combination of climate warming and human activities, and is often accompanied by a reduction in ecosystem services. This decline is particularly evident in coastal regions where inputs from municipal, agricultural, aquaculture, and industrial sources lead to blooms of algae and gelatinous plankton. In Norway, one of the main threats to the health of coastal ecosystems is an increase in the deposition of organic matter to the sea floor. Excess feed and fish-waste from fish farms, as well as sinking dead jellyfish are major sources of organic matter. The settling organic matter can alter the nutrient cycling on the sea floor and, in some cases, result in severe depletion of dissolved oxygen in the water. This can have impacts throughout the ecosystem, as well as upon the economic services that the ecosystems provide for society. The scope of the Norwegian JELLYFARM project is to investigate the effects of organic inputs from fish farms and jelly blooms individually and in combination, in both southern and northern Norwegian fjords. Besides processing samples from a baseline sampling campaign, the student will be involved in processing the meiobenthic samples from mesocosm tracer experiments in which both stressors will be simulated. There might be an opportunity to join a field trip and assist in performing the experiments in a northern Norwegian fjord, which are scheduled in the late summer of 2017.
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Prof. Dr. Ann Vanreusel
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Reference Number: RP-47561