Food Webs: an Enlightening Stay at Bremerhaven  

As part of my PhD programme and thanks to IMCONet project, I travelled to Germany to attend courses and work at the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI)-Bremerhaven during July and August 2015.

My first step on this country was at the beautiful island of Sylt, located in the north region of Germany bordering with Denmark. In the town of List, AWI has a great facility: Wadden Sea Station Sylt. There I attended a 10 day food web course imparted by Dr. Harald Asmus. During the course we had field excursions, introduction lectures and practical exercises in network analysis of food webs. It also included two days about stable isotope preparation and analysis given by Dr. Benoit Lebreton. My stay at Sylt was enlightening as one of my PhD objectives is to disentangle the food web of Potter Cove (Isla 25 de Mayo, Antarctica).

After Sylt I spent four weeks at Bremerhaven working with Doris Abele. Due to my deep interest in modeling, using free software, I took a short course on Python, programming language to integrate systems more effectively. Paul Gierz and Mariam Rizkallah were the professors of the course.

I spent most of my stay at AWI-Bremerhaven working on the sea-ice data set of Potter Cove. The Western Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) region, where Potter Cove is situated, is suffering a rapid warming of air temperature, which has been associated with an increase in ice mass loss. As a result, it is crucial to comprehend sea-ice dynamics in WAP. I am still working on this data set in order to better understand what factors are driving sea-ice in Potter Cove.

Finally, I traveled to the University Gent (Belgium) to work with Marleen De Troch and Francesca Pasotti. There we had useful discussions on how to carry out the benthic-pelagic coupling of the Potter Cove food web.

Apart from working I could enjoy the nice port-city of Bremerhaven and its Sail Fest, an incredible parade of sailing vessels along the coast of the harbour. Belgium is for me one of the best European countries to take wallpaper pictures.   

I had a great experience in AWI. I hope to be back in the near future!

Tomás Marina