PhD defence Bart De Smet
The importance of Lanice conchilega reefs in trophic linkages in intertidal areas:
This PhD thesis aims at improving our understanding of the structural and functional role of reefs constructed by the ecosystem engineer Lanice conchilega in natural soft substrate coastal ecosystems. This was achieved by keeping in mind a holistic approach regarding the formulation of the ecological hypotheses throughout the thesis. At first, the community and ecosystem ecology of L. conchilega was studied, followed by characterising trophic interactions taking place within the reef habitats and comprehensively combining ecosystem engineering and food webs. The general discussion combines the results of this thesis and discusses the role of L. conchilega reefs regarding the community composition, feedback effects, food web structure and carbon cycling in intertidal areas.