MAE: Field, mesocosm & lab experiments

In order to examine causal effects beyond correlations experiments need to be performed. Marine Animal Ecology performs experiments in the field, in mesocosms and in the lab.

Field experiments

In the Dutch Caribbean and in the remote Pacific, Marine Animal Ecology uses Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures to perform experiments in the field. One project uses various treatments of adding nutrients to see how it affects colonizing community structure and function.

No longer open for students.

Experiment in the field. Photo: M. Streekstra.
Experiment in the field. Photo: M. Streekstra.

Mesocosm experiments

A mesocosm represents an outdoor system somewhere between an aquarium in the lab and an experiment in the field. It examines as much as possible the natural environment but then under controlled conditions. Projects using such mesocosm systems at Marine Animal Ecology include:

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Video courtesy Dr. E. Foekema (

Lab experiments

Marine animal ecology performs various experiments in the lab. For instance using the existing coral adult and larval marine aquaculture to test for effects of external stressors on their ecophysiological performance. Furthermore, one project looks at effects of sedimentation in combination with seawater temperature rise on deep sea sponges in order to better conserve sponge grounds. (This specific project is no longer open for students).

Aquaria set up at Marine Animal Ecology. Photo: Dr. T. Wijgerde.
Aquaria set up at Marine Animal Ecology. Photo: Dr. T. Wijgerde.

Techniques used & Implications

In our experiments, Marine Animal Ecology studies ecophysiology. Better understanding individual or community functioning will contribute to better ecosystems conservation towards climate resilience.