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Conservation palaeobiology of oil-polluted tropical marine biota


The project is designed to analyze the effects of chronic pollution by off-shore oil and gas fields on marine life. During an environmental monitoring programme carried out in the southern Arabian Gulf, water, sediment and benthic marine life samples were collected in the vicinities of four fields. Pollution effects will be evaluated by classical benthic ecology methods and by an innovative approach which evaluates the agreement between the death and living assemblages: a mismatch between the composition of a time-averaged death assemblage of molluscan skeletal remains and the associated living assemblage can be reliable and conservative evidence for human-induced change in shallow-marine habitats. This approach focuses on shelled molluscs, which leave durable post-mortem remains. It will be augmented by radiocarbon-calibrated-AAR age estimates from time-averaged assemblages to better assess the causes of potential mismatch between the living and death assemblage. This is one of the few projects where environmental assessment data gained by private companies will be provided to the scientific community.
Quantification of live-dead agreement and shell dating are taphonomy techniques that this project will use to assess present-day ecological dynamics. They are tools of the emerging new research field of conservation palaeobiology. The fellowship will train the fellow in this new field, tutored by a group of complementary supervisors expert in fossil and recent benthic processes and patterns in the Mediterranean and tropical seas. Analytical taphonomy and shell dating will optimally blend marine biology and palaeontology techniques to yield new multidisciplinary insights into a key issue of our times – the degradation of marine habitats by human activity.

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Universitatsring 1
1010 Wien
Type d’activité
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Contribution de l’UE
€ 186 783,60
Contact administratif
Martin Zuschin (Prof.)