Living in multi-stressed sediments: behavioral consequences for the functioning and diversity in coastal habitats

In Progress: October 2014 -

Shallow coastal habitats and estuaries provide a number of important ecosystem services and functions, therefore, considered to have high ecological and socio-economical value. However, these crucial habitats are impacted worldwide by multiple stressors which alter the delivered critical ecosystem benefits or services. In the interest to assess how shallow coastal ecosystems respond to climatic and non-climatic stressors, it is essential to understand the dynamics and functioning of species populations within the ecosystem; specifically, how these processes and patterns are affected by varies degrees of interactive stressors. Marine benthos organisms carry out crucial behavioural activities, for example, foraging, avoiding predation and competing with others. Any stressor or environmental change that is able to induce disruption of behavioural processes has the potential to influence individual fitness and ultimately affect community dynamics and coupled ecosystem functioning. This project investigates the behavioural response of benthic key species to different degrees of multiple interactive stressors: hypoxia, warming and acidification of seawater; consequently, how these responses affect the functioning and diversity of coastal ecosystems.