PhD defence Sebastiaan Mestdagh

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

We are pleased to announce that on Wednesday 5 October 2018, PhD researcher Sebastiaan Mestdagh will be defending his PhD dissertation on "Functional roles of benthic macrofauna in sediment biogeochemistry across natural and anthropogenic gradients". This PhD is promoted by prof. dr. Tom Moens, dr. Carl Van Colen en dr. Tom Ysebaert. Below you can find a short abstract of the research. The defence starts at 16:00 and takes place at Auditorium A1 , building S9, Campus Sterre (Krijgslaan 281, 9000 Ghent). Adjacent the reception will take place at 18:00 at the Marine Biology Meeting Room, building S8.

The variety of habitats on the seafloor in coastal seas and estuaries affects the composition of benthic macrofaunal communities. By controlling sediment processes, these communities are crucial in determining the biogeochemical cycling of oxygen and nutrients, and are therefore essential in the marine ecosystem. By dredging and dumping sediment, humans alter seafloor habitat characteristics, presenting an additional challenge for the macrobenthos. In this PhD, the functional roles of the macrobenthos are investigated along gradients on the estuarine seafloor, along with their contribution to the benthic biogeochemistry. Additionally, changes in this contribution were studied along sedimentary gradients created by dredging and dumping activities. It is shown that both natural and anthropogenic changes in sedimentary habitat structure can profoundly affect the functional role of the macrobenthos in the biogeochemical cycling of elements.