The effect of fouling fauna on coastal nitrogen cycling.

Internship position (12 ECTS)
Oceans and Lakes
During the last 10 years, many offshore wind farms have been installed along the European coast, and many more will be installed in the coming years. These wind farms provide new habitat, as hard substrates are introduced in sandy environments. The installations are being colonized by large densities of blue mussels (Mytilus edulis) and colony-forming amphipods (Jassa sp.). Recent evidence showed that the presence of blue mussels has strong effects on the nitrogen cycle in the water column, resulting in a net production of the greenhouse gas N2O. This is not caused by the mussel itself, but by the biofilm on the outside of the mussel shell. Nothing is known about the effect of the amphipods, but their life style (building of tubes composed of organic matter and slow water currents through these tubes) leads to the assumption that these amphipods can affect the water column in a similar way. Within this internship, student(s) will be involved in setting up experiments that allow quantifying the effect of the presence of these fouling organisms, in terms of oxygen consumption and the nitrogen cycle. Students will be involved in collecting organisms, and will be responsible for designing experiments that will lead to a better understanding of the effect of the introduction of artificial hard substrates on the coastal ecosystem. The student(s) will get experience with sampling and experimental methodologies and will acquire problem-solving skills.
interest in experimental work
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Carl Van Colen
Reference Number: RP-47361