MAE: Field monitoring

If we want to quantify changes in the marine environment, we need to set ecological and biological baselines and monitor their progress over time. This is exactly what Marine Animal Ecology does in a variety of systems in the Indo-Pacific, Kenya, the Arctic, the Dutch Caribbean and the North Sea.

Field monitoring entails both the monitoring of water quality parameters such as water temperature, salinity, pH and potential pollutants, and the monitoring of biological communities, benthic or pelagic. Biological communities can be monitored through visual (video) surveys, placing transect lines along the bottom and taking pictures to later be analysed in various softwares and/or using eDNA to assess presence of species. Multivariate statistics can then link environmental parameters to the presence and/or abundance of biological communities to better predict change.

Oceans and coastal systems

Marine Animal Ecology performs field monitoring in oceans and coastal systems in a variety of locations. Projects include:

Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structure in the Pacific. Photo: M. Streekstra.
Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structure in the Pacific. Photo: M. Streekstra.

North Sea

Marine Animal Ecology is involved with a WUR-wide North Sea project, focussing on nature management.

In order to adequately monitor species presence and/or abundance, usually visual surveys need to be made. However, in the marine realm these surveys can be very costly and logistically challenging. An easier way of monitoring biodiversity could be to take water samples and use the environmental DNA (eDNA) present in them to assess the presence of species. Projects currently working on this in the North Sea include:

    Scientific diving

    One way to perform field monitoring and sampling is through scientific diving. Students and professionals can follow theoretical and practical courses in scientific diving at the WUR.

    Techniques used & Implications

    The performing of field monitoring allows Marine Animal Ecology to form advice on how to adequately conserve marine ecosystems to work towards climate resilience.