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

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:

Marine lakes

Marine lakes can function as natural laboratories to assess how communities assemble in close geographic proximity but with different local environmental conditions. Projects studying marine lakes include:

Example of a transect in a marine lake. Photo: C. de Leeuw.
Example of a transect in a marine lake. Photo: C. de Leeuw.

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.