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Content archived on 2024-04-16

Effects of organic material and nutrients on the benthic systems of estuarine and coastal areas


The project aims to investigate qualitatively and quantitatively the response of estuarine and coastal marine benthic communities to eutrophication, with special emphasis on the comparison between the northern Adriatic Sea region (Lagoon of Venice) and the southern North Sea region (Dutch Wadden Sea).

The project will measure geochemical, microbiological and ecological processes in the Lagoon of Venice and the Dutch Wadden Sea in order to explain the symptoms resulting from excessive nutrient loads, such as blooms of microalgae and macroalgae, reducing conditions in sediments, production of hydrogen sulphide, luxurious growth and mass mortality of macrofauna populations and explosive development of meiofauna (eg chironomids and nematods).

Field experiments in the Venice Lagoon will be supported by mesocosm studies in the Netherlands.

The process studies will include :
sediment water exchange of nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorous, sulphur and slicon) in relation to physicochemical conditions, using bell jars;
microbial activity in sediments and in the phytobenthos;
benthic respiration;
dynamics of macrobenthos communities;
dynamics of meiofauna development;
primary production of benthic macroalgae;
and interaction between zooplankton and benthic filter feeders, as well as between microalgae and benthic macroalgae in relation to eutrophication processes.

The investigations will lead to a detailed characterization of key processes which are controlling the response of benthic communities to eutrophication.


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Call for proposal

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Business Unit of TNO Built Environment and Geosciences
EU contribution
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Van Mourik Broekmanweg 6

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Participants (3)