Understanding benthic, pelagic and air-borne ecosystem interactions in shallow coastal seas
The research project WestBanks builds on the expertise and knowledge about the structural and functional characteristics of the higher trophic levels (benthos, fish and birds) obtained in the recent years within the ‘Biodiversity-North Sea’ research networks financed by PPS Science Policy, Belgium. WestBanks will focus on the interactions between sediment, water and air at the ecosystem, species and population level. In order to maximize the integration of our results, we target a single area of the Belgian Continental Shelf (BCS), the Western Coastal Banks area which is an important foraging area for seabirds; the area is also an important fishing and nursery ground for flatfish while the sediment in the area harbours a rich macrobenthic community. The structural characteristics of all size classes of the benthos of the area are very well known
The WestBanks proposal is divided over 4 work packages :
<li>The role of dispersal for benthic organisms and demersal fish,
<li>Air-sea biotic coupling and
<li>Coordination, data management and valorization.