MAE: Biodiversity

Biodiversity is a measurement of variation that can be assessed at the genetic, species and ecosystem level. At Marine Animal Ecology we perform fundamental research to answer questions such as how biodiversity is generated and maintained and what the underlying processes are. We also develop monitoring tools to adequately assess diversity.

    Quantifying biodiversity in the North Sea

    In order to manage marine ecosystems effectively it is essential to get a good measure of the biodiversity present. Monitoring biodiversity allows for the detection of effects of on the one hand human-induced stressors such as climate change and fisheries, and on the other hand effects of Marine Protected Areas. GEANS (Genetic tools for Ecosystem health Assessment in the North Sea region) is a project that aims to develop genetic tools to assess biodiversity in a fast, cost-effective and accurate way. Using state-of-the-art sequencing techniques such as the opportunities provided by the Oxford Nanopore MinION, novel ways of estimating biodiversity are explored. An overarching project page will be available soon, but projects include:

    Artificial structure near which biodiversity assessments are made.
    Artificial structure near which biodiversity assessments are made.

    REEFolution to restore biodiversity

    The second longest fringing reefs of the world can be found at the eastern coast of Africa, stretching from Somalia to northern Mozambique. The reefs in Kenya are part of this biodiverse system, but currently under threat of overfishing and global climate change. REEFolution Kenya has been founded in 2015 and since then focusses on the restoration of coral reefs by building coral nurseries to grow coral fragments before outplanting them and raising environmental awareness. Projects include:

    See also this news item on researchers building a new reef.

    Conservation of cetaceans as keystone species

    Cetaceans are top predators in the marine foodweb, and as such are important indicators of a healthy marine environment. This project is working on mapping out cetacean migration patterns from historical and current data to fill knowledge gaps in cetacean occurrence in the Indo-Pacific. Knowing where cetaceans occur and uncovering their habitat preference will improve Marine Spatial Planning and allow us to better design Marine Protected Areas.

    Innovative ways of monitoring

    A couple soon to come projects include a fish sensing box and a Roboshark!

    Techniques used & Implications

    To study marine biodiversity, Marine Animal Ecology performs field monitoring and uses molecular techniques. With a better understanding of biodiversity we are better able to conserve ecosystems to work towards climate resilience.