Projects and Expeditions

Biodiversity assessment of cold-water coral-associated bryozoan communities under contrasting environmental conditions in Mediterranean and Atlantic continental margin settings

Marine Biodiversity Research (DZMB)
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Biodiversity assessment of cold-water coral-associated bryozoan communities under contrasting environmental conditions in Mediterranean and Atlantic continental margin settings

BiK-F, Projekt A3.10 Cold-water coral ecosystems: Past to present Kei Matsuyama, Prof. Dr. André Freiwald

Bryozoa Colonies on a coral fragmentThe presence of azooxanthellate corals and their extent beyond shallow waters or lower latitudes has been known since the 18th century. However, detailed research only started with the advent of advanced hydro-acoustic settings and remotely operated vehicles in the 1970s. (Freiwald 2011) This pattern also applies for its associated fauna. Concentrating on bryozoans, there have been records starting around the beginning of the last century, e.g. Calvet 1896; Jullien & Calvet 1903; Nordgaard 1912. In recent years investigations regarding bryozans on cold-water corals increased, e.g. Hayward & Ryland 1978; Zabala et al. 1993; López-Fé 2006, although not reaching the attention other phyla gained.


Integrating Short- and Long-Term Bioerosion Processes (Greece)

DFG-Project: Wi 3754/2 Duration: 2012-2015 Max Wisshak

DFG-Projekt FR 1134/19Over the course of the upcoming three years, the new DFG project sets out to integrate date from short- and long-term carbonate cycling experiments, already carried out, and partly to be carried out, in the Eastern Mediterranean. Project partners are, among others, the trace fossil veteran Richard Bromley (Denmark), our partner in Greece Nikoleta Bellou (HCMR), and the sponge bioerosion expert Christine Schönberg (AIMS, Australia), as well as Lydia Beuck, our in-house expert on Micro-CT. For carrying out the project we seek for a motivated research associate (PhD candidate; respective job announcement coming up soon).

Spatial and temporal effects of anthropogenic carbon on bioerosion

DFG-Projekt FR 1134/19In the recent discussion how biotic systems may react to raised CO2 and temperature in the marine realm, we will analyse the role of the most effective benthic bioeroder – the boring sponges. Several hypotheses predict an increase of sponge-driven bioerosion along with a decreasing calcification potential of their hosts.
In an integrated approach we will study interaction effects of global ocean acidification and climate change with the main focus on how altered CO2 concentrations and raised temperatures may influence bioerosion rates. Experiments will be conducted on bioeroding sponges as model organisms, because they have unique properties ideal for the planned research allowing simultaneous evaluation of different parameters: Symbiotic sponges are likely to be affected by climate change and can be compared to both symbiotic reef builders and asymbiotic sponges. Chemical etching of sponges is assumed to be enhanced by ocean acidification.
By using field sites in two marine environments in different climates (Helgoland – North Sea, Great Barrier Reef – Australia), results will provide a large-scale impression of spatial variation. A field survey at a previously established tropical site will allow complementary temporal analysis and prognoses (presently over ca. 10 years). In total, data will convey critical insights into global trends of biologically caused decalcification. Project partners are: Christine Schöneberg (Expert for bioeroding sponges, AIMS, Perth) and Armin Form (Experimental Biologist, IFM-Geomar, Kiel).

Biosedimentary systems in Arctic environments: Polar coralline algae

RhodolitheIn 2006, the northernmost coralline algal grounds were discovered at 80°30’ off Nordaustlandet during the EFS S. Merian Cruise 2/3. This site and several others around Svalbard were intensively documented and sampled with the manned submarine Jago. Polar coralline algae seem to be much more widespread in polar waters than previously thought, thus representing a unique polar carbonate factory. In this project the biotic assemblage and functioning of this poorly known biosedimentary system is analysed, the value of coralline algae to reconstruct historic environmental change (e.g., the ongoing arctic warming) using dating and geochemical methods is testified and a budget for photic polar carbonates is estimated.

CARBONATE: Mid latitude carbonate systems

CT ScanThe aim of this joined ESF-EuroCores project is to investigate recent to young fossil carbonate mounds and build-ups by cold-water corals that occur along the European Atlantic continental margin from northern Norway to the Gulf of Cadiz. The focus of our team is set on the investigation of complete sedimentary sequences from a postglacial cold-water coral reef complex in the Stjernsund, northern Norway. Selected cores were dated and micropalaeontological (benthic foraminifers) and geochemical analysis are carried out. The Stjernsund reef complex was mapped and sampled during Poseiden cruise P325 in 2005. The CARBONATE Project is directed by Dr. Andy Wheeler, University College Cork, Ireland.

HERMIONE: Hotspot Ecosystem Research and Man's Impact On European Seas

EU-RP7 Duration: 2009-2012 André Freiwald, Lydia Beuck, Jürgen Titschack,
Matthias Lopez Correa, Petra Wenninger

Several coral hotspots can be identified along the European continental margin, for example, cold-water coral habitats, deep sea canyons, seamounts and chemosynthetic symbioses. Our team coordinates the project part Cold-Water Coral Ecosystems and Carbonatemounds. HERMIONE is directed by Phil Weaver (National Oceanography Centre Southampton).

CoralFISH: Assessment of the interaction between corals, fish and fisheries, in order to develop monitoring and predictive modelling tools for ecosystem based management in the deep waters of Europe and beyond

EU-RP7 Duration: 2008-2012 André Freiwald, Lydia Beuck

CoralFISH will assess the interaction between corals, fish and fisheries, in order to develop monitoring and predictive modelling tools for ecosystem based management in the deep waters of Europe and beyond. Especially cold-water coral habitats are abound in fish and often show damages due to ground trawling. In CoralFISH Biologists, Ecosystem Modellers and Economists from 10 EU states joined up with representatives of deep-sea fishery. Lydia Beuck is in charge for the development of an EU-wide standardisation of protocols for the processing of underwater-video sequences, which were recorded by manned submersibles or diving robots.


Finished Expeditions

FS Maria S. Merian Cruise MSM 16/3 „PHAETON“ to Mauritania
21.10.-20.11.10 Las Palmas (Canary Island) – Mindelo (Cap Verden)
The acronym “PHAETON” stands for Paleoceanographic and paleoclimatic record on the Mauritanian shelf. The research cruise was directed by Dr. Hildegard Westphal (MARUM, Bremen University) and was the objective of three different projects. The project of the Senckenberg team is to investigate the cold-water coral mounds that were detected in 1998 during exploration studies at the Mauritanian continental slope. A 200 km-long mound range build of cold-water corals and mud accumulations was found in a depth interval between 450 and 500 m. These biosedimentary structures amount to heights of 50 to 100 m above the seafloor.

The Mauritanian Mounds are unique, concerning their neighbourhood to oceanographic upwelling cells. Consequently the scheduled expedition aims to clarify the following questions: In which way is mound growth connected to the observed upwelling processes? How is the ecological condition of the mounds? What effects has the Sahara dust transported by trade winds on the mound growth? Further information about MSM 16/3 expedition and the scientific aims can be found in the Expedition booklet.

Senckenberg participants: Dr. Lydia Beuck, Prof. Dr. André Freiwald, Corinna Schollenberger