The ecological function of intertidal shellfish reefs for benthic algae

Rosy Andriana


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Intertidal shellfish reefs are prominent ecosystem engineers with a large ecological function on multiple scales; they provide diverse habitats for a biodiverse mix of invertebrates, fish and birds and act as biological power stations on the intertidal flat that increase biodiversity, promote primary production and enrich the food web. This research focuses on testing the function of intertidal shellfish reefs on algae communities in the Wadden Sea, both on the benthic communities of macroalgae that establish on the reefs, and on the diatoms that form the biofilm in the shallow sediment covering the intertidal.
The results are based on a mix of ecological field studies and bio-manipulation experiments; by creating small reefs of cockles, mussels and oysters and observing the effect of the different shellfish reefs on seaweed and biofilm composition and distribution. They indicate that intertidal shellfish reefs create areas of high production and biodiversity, not only improving their own physical habitat, but are also promoting self-reinforcing feedbacks. An important contribution of a template for future studies in molecular analysis of benthic diatoms using rbcL gene as the selected genetic marker is presented as well.
The best way to manage intertidal shellfish reefs is to make sure they do not go away by protecting them. The presence of facilitation feedbacks means that for successful restoration of shellfish reefs, it is likely needed to recreate ecological interactions; which is more difficult and complicated than just constructing physical structures.
Originele taal-2English
KwalificatieDoctor of Philosophy
Toekennende instantie
  • Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
  • Eriksson, Britas Klemens, Supervisor
  • Falcao Salles, Joana, Supervisor
  • Matthiessen, Birte, Supervisor, Externe Persoon
Datum van toekenning29-okt.-2021
Plaats van publicatie[Groningen]
StatusPublished - 2021

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