Structural and functional biodiversity of copepod (Crustacea) communities on the Belgian Continental Shelf (North Sea)


This project aims at studying structural and functional biodiversity of harpacticoid copepods by analysing density, diversity and species composition of different sandbanks and by relating changes in harpacticoid communities to the Phaecocystis pouchetii bloom in spring. Special attention will be paid to identify ecological indicatorspecies to be able to indicate vulnerable and valuable areas on the Belgian Continental Shelf.

Harpacticoid copepods are studied in order to define the different harpacticoid communities on the Belgian Continental Shelf and to investigate which factors influence the structural and functional biodiversity of those communities. Defining structural biodiversity comprises the study of the spatial variation on and between selected sandbanks in relation to sediment characteristics. As the intensity of sand extraction on the Kwintebank is very high, the possible impact of this human-induced disturbance is also investigated. An aspect of the study of functional biodiversity is to determine the impact of the Phaeocystis pouchetii bloom in spring on harpacticoid communities. Therefore, the benthic community is followed before, during and after the input of phytodetritus in three stations, differing in the intensity of organic enrichment. The relation between abiotic variables (sediment composition, nutrients, pigments, organic C) and harpacticoid communities willbe studied in an annual monitoring campaign in autumn. All these data will make it possible to identify ecological indicator species or communities. The results will be incorporated into a GIS, which surveys user functions, physical and biological variables of the southern North Sea, as a policy instrument to indicate vulnerable and valuable areas and to support the sustainable management of the North Sea.


marine biodiversity, Belgian Continental Shelf, Belgium, communities, conservation, Copepoda, Crustacea, ecology, Harpacticoida, indicator species, Invertebrata, maintenance and change of biodiversity, marine and coastal habitats, marine sand extraction, meiobenthos, Metazoa, monitoring of biodiversity, North Sea, origins, restoration and sustainable use of biodiversity, substrate extraction, ecosystem functioning, copepods


Belgium {Geographical scope}
North Sea {Geographical scope}
Marine and Coastal {Habitat type}


Name Role Start End
Vincx, Magda promotor


Name Role Start End
Marine Biology unknown


Reference Role
Vanaverbeke J., M. Steyaert, W. Bonne & M. Vincx, 2001. Three decades of meiobenthos research on the Belgian Continental Shelf: an overview, p.11-16. In: Cattrijsse A. & Vincx M. (Eds.) Biodiversity of the Benthos and the Avifauna of the BelgianCoastal Waters: Summary of data collected between 1970 and 1998, The Prime Minister's Services Federal Office for Scientific, Technical and Cultural affairs, 48 p. author

created:2011-12-14 14:18:59 UTC, source:biodiv

© 2012 by the Belgian Biodiversity Platform