Quantifying respiration rates of key benthic species

Internship position (12 ECTS)
Oceans and Lakes
There is a growing body of literature that supports the idea that the behaviour of some macrofaunal organisms has important consequences for the mineralization processes in marine sediments. These mineralization processes transform organic matter to inorganic nutrients, that are partly released in the water column and fuel the next phytoplankton bloom. Macrofauna changes the settings for the mineralization processes, by ventilating deeper sediment layers or by transporting particles from the sediment surface to deeper layers, or the other way around. However, macrofaunal organisms need oxygen to survive, which makes them important players in total oxygen consumption, a proxy that is normally used to explain mineralization rates. Within a project aiming at upscaling the effects of human activities at a local scale (i.e. within an offshore windfarm) to larger areas that are of interest for policy makers, we will build an ecosystem functioning model that is based on animal behaviour and animal respiration. Within this internship, animal respiration will be measured through a series of incubations in the lab, making use of state of the art experimental equipment. Respiration set-ups will be tested and improved to allow for a correct estimation of faunal respiration, data that will be used in our ecosystem functioning model. The student will be involved in sampling, experimental set up, and testing and improving the equipment and experimental strategy. The student will further be involved in standardization procedure, linking respiration rates to units of biomass.
interest in experimental work
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Other people involved: 
Ulrike Braeckman, Elise Toussaint
Reference Number: RP-47371