Sea cucumber behavior during low tides in Ria Formosa and Olhos de Agua (South Portugal)

Master Thesis subject (30 ECTS)
Scarce information on ecology and behavior of sea cucumbers from Mediterranean Sea and North-eastern Atlantic is available. Two years ago, the EMBC student Andjin Siegenthaler carried out a brilliant Msc Thesis on spatial distribution patterns and population structure of Holothuria arguinensis in the Ria Formosa (Portugal). From this thesis, we got very valuable information such as: 1) Movement speed of H. arguinensis did not differ between habitats and its direction was offshore during the day and shoreward during the night; 2) the median home range size was 35 m 2 and overlap between home ranges was 84 %; 3) H. arguinensis is showing a close association with seagrass; 4) H. arguinensis during the low tide survives outside water, but individuals not covered by seagrass or algae are showing skin wounds. This Msc Thesis will study this interesting behavior on sea cucumber populations from Ria Formosa and Olhos de Agua (South Portugal) focusing on the next objectives: 1) to establish the percentage of sea cucumbers (both species) covered and non covered during the low tides; 2) to study the preferences of seagrass and algae species used for sea cucumber' coverage; 3) to identify variables address this behavior (sea cucumber' color, water and air temperature, irradiance; tide amplitude, sea cucumber density, presence of different holothuria species, etc); 4) to assess the sea cucumber' health (mainly skin wounds) under both situations (with or without protection).
1) abilities to field work; 2) good statistical knowledge
Number of students: 
academic year: 
Contact person email: 
contact person first name: 
Dr. Mercedes Wanguemert
Other people involved: 
Dr. Fernando Cánovas, CCMAR
Institutes Involved: 
Reference Number: RP-35452