Project Goals

Description of the current status of sediment structures, bentho-pelagic habitats and ecological communities

The overall aim of the project is a comprehensive description of the current status of the three Natura 2000 sites in the North Sea; Doggerbank, Sylter Outer Reef and Borkum Reef Ground. The current status can then be used to estimate long-term effects of the mobile bottom-contact fisheries (MGF) exclusion on habitats and communities. The project focuses on the following research objectives:

  1. Temporal and spatial high resolution recordings of fisheries effects on the a) physical, b) biological and c) chemical status of the Natura 2000 sites
  2. Investigation of the spatial and temporal variability of benthic communities 
  3. Development of a holistic representation based on food web models to determine the structure and functioning of the study sites
  4. Quantification of plankton productivity and bentho-pelagic coupling
  5. Recording of microbial communities in sediments, on hard substrates and benthic macroinvertebrates
  6. Quantification of the benthic fluxes in the sediment
  7. Modelling of changes in benthic fluxes due to fisheries exclusion
  8. Test and implementation of alternative, non-invasive sampling methods and establishment of monitoring stations to record the communities for future monitoring strategies in the protected areas
  9. Analysing the structure and function of each study sitesbased on a holistic concept that considers the entire ecosystem

What is the Benthos?

Communities living in or on the seafloor are called Benthos.


And bentho-pelagic coupling?

Bentho-pelagic coupling is the exchange of benthic communities with the water column above the sea floor, the pelagic zone.