Understand ecological processes mediated by macrofaunal assemblages in boundary layers and their susceptibility to climate change
In the ocean, biodiversity, biomass and productivity are patchily distributed - and often decoupled between the pelagic and benthic realm: In the ice-covered high Antarctic, rich benthic communities persist in spite of pelagic production which is very limited in space and time. Marine endotherms migrate thousands of km to congregate at delimited feeding spots. How are these local hotspots of marine life sustained in the face of ice and nutrient deserts? What are the mechanisms involved? We are interested in coupling of benthic and pelagic processes which take place at the crossroads of advective, sinking and migratory fluxes of materials. Our aim is to understand the ecological processes associated with the creation of biogenic habitat, biodiversity and utilization of resources, and the resilience of these interlinked benthic and pelagic communities to natural disturbances and impending environmental changes. Our research focuses on epibenthic suspension feeder communities, comparing across key taxa and latitudes, dynamic ocean processes enriching plankton near the seabed and fronts, and the response of planktivores, fishes, and top predators to local enrichments in space and time.