Dark ages ahead for marine forest forming Cystoseira seaweeds?

Master Thesis subject (30 ECTS)
Marine forests in the Mediterranean and warmer Atlantic waters are mainly formed by brown seaweeds of the genus Cystoseira. Many of these species are endangered, while others are on a decline or predicted to decline sharply under expected global change scenarios. Most species or populations are not able to migrate northwards as seawater temperatures will rise. Their decline and disappearance are expected to have large consequences for other tropical levels and ecosystem functioning. Unfortunately, our knowledge on the ecophysiology and ecology of Cystoseiras is rather limited. In order to fill this knowledge gap we propose to perform ecophysiological (micro and mesocosm) experiments in which the temperature tolerance of several species across different populations will be assessed to test for inter and intraspecific differentiation in thermal tolerance. In the field, temperature profiles will be determined across species and populations and the reproductive biology will be studied with a focus on dispersal, settlement and recruitment processes. As the success of a species is not only bottom up regulated by abiotic factors, we also will perform studies that will provide new insights in how grazing mediates the distribution and ecology of Cystoseiras. This can include characterizing fauna communities across different Cystoseira species as well as grazing experiment to test selectivity of grazers across species but also different life stages of Cystoseira.
for field studies students need to have their own transportation and be skilled snorklers
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Prof. Ester Serrão
Reference Number: RP-48181