WP 4 - Structure and functioning of the benthos and its response to climate-induced changes


The aim of this work package is to integrate all data that are available on the temporal and spatial distribution of different taxonomic groups represented in the benthic fauna and flora at different levels of organisation from populations to communities. Furthermore in this WP integration will be done and expertise exchanged in order to understand the response of the biota to climate change related effects. In order to achieve this overall objective 3 specific objectives were identified: (1) to archive and study patterns in community and population structure and functioning of benthic fauna and flora, (2) to investigate the (stress) response from populations to communities in the face of a climate-induced changing environment and (3) to understand the effect of climate change on the generation and maintenance of genetic diversity. The output of this WP will feed into WP6 in order to model the community patterns and the response.

About the WP Leader – Ann Vanreusel

WP 4 is led by Prof. Dr. Ann Vanreusel of the Universiteit Gent in Belgium.

Prof A. Vanreusel, since 2000 part of the academic staff (professor) of  the Marine Biology Research group from Ghent University, has a strong expertise in research on the structural and functional biodiversity of benthos. She has focused her research on the ecology of extreme marine environments including polar regions. Numerous publications (± 130) and international collaborations attest to this. Most of the polar research performed by the promoter is embedded in international projects and networks such as the ESF-IMCOAST, the Belgian funded projects BIANZO (Biodiversity of Antarctic Zoobenthos) but also international networks and initiatives such as ANDEEP (SYSTCO) and ScarMarbin. The research group was one of the 56 European centers of Excellence "in the 'Network of excellence MARBEF (Marine Biodiversity and ecological function) - within the EC Sixth Framework Program. The unit is regularly surveyed nationally and internationally in terms of research, collaborations and exchanges.


Ricardo Sahade is Co-Leader of WP4 and a researcher of the National Council of Scientific Research of Argentina (CONICET) and the University of Córdoba working in the Animal Ecology and Diversity Institut (IDEA). His work is mainly focused in patterns and processes of polar benthic ecosystems which are especially affected by the climate change phenomenon. He has participated in several campaigns to the Arctic and the Antarctic, in the frame of several international cooperation projects.  He also built a research group at the University of Cordoba studying the processes of coastal benthic ecosystems with different approaches, from community ecology to population genetics and mathematical modelling, that currently counts with more than 10 people from researchers to students. He also teaches Marine Ecology at the University of Córdoba.



Ann Vanreusel, marine ecologist at the University of Ghent, Belgium.

Ricardo Sahade, marine ecologist of the National Council of Scientific Research of Argentina (CONICET) and the University of Córdoba, Argentina.