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Project: Macrozoobenthos and Birds - Monitoring abundance, composition, development and spatial variation in macro...

Project details

Acronym : Macrozoobenthos and Birds
Full project name : Monitoring abundance, composition, development and spatial variation in macrozoobenthos and birds
Initiating organisation : NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, Texel
Project leader : M. J. Baptist
Supporting organisation(s)NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, Texel
NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, Yerseke
SOVON Dutch Centre for Field Ornithology (Texel)
Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research TNO
University of Amsterdam, Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED) (Main Office)
Financing : nwo
Project number : 83908250
Start date : Jan 01, 2009
End date : Dec 31, 2013


Programme :ZKO - Carrying Capacity: Line 2 - National Programme Sea and Coastal Research (ZKO) - Carrying Capacity: Line 2 - Monitoring
Main project :-


Description :

Monitoring abundance, composition, development and spatial variation in macrozoobenthos and birds

Dr. ir. M.J. Baptist- Wageningen IMARES, Marine System Ecology
Dr. F.E. Fey-Hofstede- Wageningen IMARES, Benthic organisms

Drs. J.M. Jansen- Wageningen IMARES Benthic organisms
Dr. N.M.J. Dankers- Wageningen IMARES, Benthic organisms
Dr. Ir. A.G. Brinkman- Wageningen IMARES, Ecosystem modelling
Dr. J.A. Craeymeersch- Wageningen IMARES, Benthic organisms
Dr. P.C. Goudswaard- Wageningen IMARES, Benthic organisms
Dr. H.W.G. Meesters- Wageningen IMARES, Applied Environmental Statistics
Drs. C.J. Smit- Wageningen IMARES, Ornithology of waders
Prof. Dr T. Piersma- Royal NIOZ/RUG, Animal ecology
Prof. Dr J. van der Meer- Royal NIOZ/Free University, Animal population dynamics
Drs A. Dekinga- Royal NIOZ, Intertidal benthic surveys
Drs R. Dekker- Royal NIOZ, Macrozoobenthic ecology
Dr P.J.C. Honkoop- Royal NIOZ, Macrozoobenthic ecology
Dr H.W. van der Veer- Royal NIOZ, Marine population biology
Dr. B.J. Ens- SOVON, Wader ecology, bird behaviour
Drs. K.H. Oosterbeek- SOVON, Wader ecology
Ing. M.W.J. van Roomen- SOVON, Monitoring waterbirds
Drs. M.J.M. Poot- Bureau Waardenburg, Radar ornithology
Drs. K.L. Krijgsveld- Bureau Waardenburg, Behavioural ecology
Ir. A. Borst- TNO, Radar
Dr. C. Rappoldt- EcoCurves, Modelling bird carrying capacity
Dr. ir. E.E. van Loon- IBED, Spatial statistics
Drs. A.M. Schmidt- Alterra, Remote sensing
Dr. J. van de Koppel- NIOO-KNAW, Spatial ecology
Dr. K. Kersting- Kees Kersting Ecosystem Research, Side Scan Sonar

The organisms that fall under the banner of macrozoobenthos (macro - because they are retained on sieves with a 1 mm mesh, zoo- because they are animals and benthos - because they live on or in marine soft sediments) form the central part of the foodweb of any coastal intertidal area, including the Wadden Sea. The worms, crabs, shrimps and bivalves form the food of predators such as the migrant birds and the fishes. Some of these species, such as mussels or shrimps, are also eaten by humans. At the same time they are the major consumers of the primary production in the water layer (phytoplankton) and on the actual seabottom (phytobenthos), the intertidal parts exposed twice a day. One could say that the foodweb of the Wadden Sea revolves around the macrozoobenthos.
In the Wadden Sea, a relatively small number of bivalve species represent the majority of the biomass. This group of filter feeders is represented by Blue mussels, Cockles, Soft-shelled clams, Baltic Tellins, Pacific oysters and Razorshell clams. During the past few decades, the occurrence and distribution of these species seem to change. Mussel production decreases and densities of Baltic tellins are in decline, while the biomass of the Pacific oyster and the Razorshell clam seems to increase.
These developments are important for the modelling of the carrying capacity of the Wadden Sea ecosystem. Besides their ecological importance, some species are also of economic importance, for example mussels. This creates an area of tension in policy making. Also for policy making it is of importance to monitor the developments of these species in the Wadden Sea. The Wadden Sea is internationally renowned for the large number of birds depending on this area for their survival and reproduction, and the Dutch government has committed itself to their protection via many national and international treaties. In order to manage this protected area, it is important to know what factors are determining the carrying capacity for birds. The benthic food resources play an eminent role. These resources are spatially heterogeneously distributed and temporarily not always available. A major shortcoming in the current monitoring is that we keep count of the total number of birds, but we do not know where and when they are feeding. This is due to practical problems in observing the birds in their feeding habitat, the intertidal and subtidal areas, and the ever changing distribution of the birds, both in time as in space. A spatially explicit and continuous monitoring program of the distribution of benthivorous birds would, therefore, be a major improvement for correlational as well as process-based studies on the bottom-up factors determining the carrying capacity for benthivorous birds, as well as the top-down factors determining the carrying capacity for benthos in the Wadden Sea.
This proposal, therefore, aims at monitoring abundance, composition, development and spatial variation in macrozoobenthos and birds. It will map the benthic distribution of the entire Western Wadden Sea, both intertidal as well as subtidal. A regular grid pattern will be applied to take bed samples and especially the bivalves will be counted, weighed and measured. Biogenic structures of mussels and oysters will be mapped both intertidal and subtidal with aerial photography analysis and sonar. The movements of the birds will be followed with a combination of bird radar and videocameras on the tidal flat of Balgzand. By bringing all data together in a statistical model we will be able to better predict the carrying capacity for benthos and birds.