“Understanding how marine ecosystems are functionning is key to best protect them.“
My main research interests are biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. I am particularly interested in understanding how environmental stressors can impact invertebrate communities living in marine sediments.
Some questions I am addressing in my research:
WHY ARE SMALL MARINE INVERTEBRATES IMPORTANT?
Coastal ecosystems have highly valuable goods and services for human society and provide important ecological functions (such as primary and secondary productions and nutrient cycling).
Marine invertebrates living in those areas, such as worms, play an important role by linking organic material with predators, providing food to fish for instance.
HOW THE ENVIRONMENT IMPACT MARINE INVERTEBRATES?
Marine invertebrates have intimate relationships with their environments. Due to their restricted mobility, they have limited ability to avoid environmental and human disturbances. They can be particularly impacted by stressors such as low salinity, hypoxia, resuspension events, dredging and eutrophication that can occur in coastal ecosystems. In a climate change context, it is essential to identify which environmental parameters are impacting invertebrates and how?
From macro- to microfauna: structural and functional responses of benthic communities to abiotic and biotic stressors
The different benthic size components (macrofauna, meiofauna and microfauna) of the coastal ecosystems are central in several ecosystem function. While macro- and meiofauna are linking organic material with predators, providing food to fish, microfauna play a crucial role in many global biogeochemical cycles. Benthic organisms have intricate relationships with their environment and can therefore be particularly impacted by environmental and anthropogenic disturbances. My PhD thesis aims to identify structural and functional responses of macro-, meio and microbenthos communities to abiotic and biotic stressors. An integrated analysis of size-class groups of benthic species that belong to different functional groups is seen as the best approach to understand coastal ecology and functioning.
In order to identify changes in community composition and diversity of benthic taxa, I am using a combination of traditional taxonomic assessment for macrofauna and metabarcoding DNA analyses for meio- and microfauna. In addition, to have different levels of understanding, I am combining quantitative field-based observational studies with field and aquarium experiments.