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The research groups - Biosphere

Ghent University
Marine Biology Section

Promotor: Prof Dr Vanreusel Ann

Presentation

When our research group initially got involved in international polar research projects hardly any, to no information was available on the meiobenthos (metazoans smaller than 1 mm) from these extreme environments. Therefore in a first phase especially their abundance and composition was investigated. Since they were found to represent the most abundant and species-rich taxa in marine sediments of polar seas, their role in ecosystem processes became a strong point of interest. Polar seas do differ significantly from other oceans in benthic ecology partly due to the strong seasonality associated with these environments which are covered large parts of the year with ice. In spring when the ice melts, ice algae sink down while strong phytoplankton blooms results in a strong seasonal signal by the input of organic matter to the seafloor. This temporal increased food input results in high benthic standing stocks. In addition to the strong seasonal variability there is also a high spatial variability resulting in areas of high food input contrasting with impoverished sediments with low food input, especially in these areas permanently covered with ice. It is this variability in time and space which we try to understand. In addition to structural investigations on the meiofauna, also functional analysis has been done and is still going on. What is the role of meiobenthos in the food web? How do they react to this seasonal food input? These questions were and are being answered by a combination of both field and experimentally collected data.
The main study area in the Antarctic is the Weddell Sea and adjacent areas including the Drake passage, Bransfield strait and Scotia Arc. In addition to the shelf also coastal areas (Signy Island) and recently the deep sea including the South Sandwich Trench have been investigated. Because of the growing interest in biodiversity we have recently put a lot of effort in understanding species distribution patterns at different scales. This involved a lot of taxonomic work resulting in many new species described from the area. Also molecular techniques are applied in biodiversity research
The Arctic research has also covered different areas in the past from the Greenland shelf and margin, to the central Arctic Ocean. Recently our research concentrated on two areas: the long term AWI station Hausgarten, north of Svalbard, and the Barents Sea slope. The Hausgarten study investigates changes in biodiversity of the meiobenthos in relation to changing environmental conditions due to climate change. At the Barents Sea-slope particular microhabitats associated with active methane seeping mud volcano is being investigated. A special adapted meiofauna is found there and under further investigation.

The following studies are ongoing:

  • Study of the structure and composition of the meiobenthos in different polar environments from shallow water to the deep-sea
  • To understand changes in the meiobenthos in relation to changing environmental conditions
  • The biodiversity and biogeography of the Antarctic deep-sea meiofauna
  • Taxonomy of new nematode species
  • Feeding interactions within the meiofauna by means of enrichment experiments
  • Population genetic structure of nematode species distributed along the Scotia Arc

Main field of activity in polar regions

Our polar research started in the late eighties with participation in international research programmes both in the Arctic and the Antarctic. Our main aim is to get insight in the structure and function of the small sized benthic animals known as meiobenthos. The main meiobenthic taxa are free-living nematodes and copepods which also received most of our interest in terms of unravelling their productivity, biodiversity and function in the polar ecosystems.

List of projects

  • BIANZO - SPSD II: Antarctica programme phase V
  • HAUSGARTEN project
  • HERMES (Hot spot Ecosystem Research on the Margins of European Seas) Integrated project in 6th FP

Research Group Team

Publication list

Peer reviewed papers

Herman, RL, Dahms, HU (1992) Meiofauna communities along a depth transect off Halley Bay (Weddell Sea, Antarctica). Polar Biol 12: 313-320

Vanhove, S, Wittoeck J, Desmet, G, Van den Berghe, B, Herman, RL, Bak, RPM, Nieuwland, G, Vosjan, JH, Boldrin, A, Rabitti, S, Vincx, M (1995) Deep-sea meiofauna communities in Antarctica: structural analysis and relation with the environment. Marine Ecology Progress Series 127: 65-76

Vanhove, S, Lee, HJ, Beghyn, M, Van Gansbeke, D, Brockington, S, Vincx, M (1998) The metazoan meiofauna in its biogeochemical environment: the case of an Antarctic coastal sediment. Journal of the Marine Biology Association of the UK 78: 411-434

Vanhove, S, Arntz, W, Vincx, M (1999) Comparative study of the nematode communities on the southeastern Weddel Sea shelf and slope (Antarctica). Marine Ecology Progress Series 181: 237-256

Peck, LS, Brockington S, Vanhove S, Beghyn M (1999) Community recovery following catastrophic iceberg impacts on a soft-sediment shallow-water site at Signy Island, Antarctica. Marine Ecology Progress Series 186: 237-256

Vanhove, S, Beghyn, M, Van Gansbeke, D, Bullough, LW, Vincx, M (2000) A seasonally varying biotope at Signy Island, Antartic: implications for meiofaunal structure. Marine Ecology Progress Series 202: 13-25

Lee, HJ, Gerdes, D, Vanhove, S, Vincx, M (2001) Meiofauna response to iceberg disturbance on the Antarctic continental shelf at Kapp Norvegia (Wedell Sea). Polar Biology 24: 926-933
Lee, HJ, Vanhove, S, Peck, LS, Vincx, M (2001) Recolonisation of meiofauna after catastrophic iceberg scouring in shallow Antarctic sediments. Polar Biology 24: 918-925

Vanhove, S, Vermeeren, H, Vanreusel, A (2004) Meiofauna towards the South Sandwich Trench (750-6300m), focus on nematodes. Deep-Sea Research II 51: 1665-1687

Vermeeren, H, Vanreusel, A, Vanhove, S (2004) Species distribution within the free-living marine nematode genus Dichromadora in the Weddell Sea and adjacent areas. Deep-Sea Research II 51: 1643-1664

De Mesel I, Lee HJ, Vanhove S, Vincx M, Vanreusel A (in prep) Species diversity and distribution within the deep-sea nematode genus Acantholaimus on the continental shelf and slope in the Weddell Sea

Project reports

Vanhove, S, J Wittoeck, M Beghyn, D Van Gansbeke, A Van Kenhove, A Coomans & M Vincx (1997) Role of the meiobenthos in Antarctic ecosytems. In : S Caschetto (Ed), Belgian Research Programme on the Antarctic : Scientific results of phase III (1992-1996), Vol I: Marine Biogeochemistry and ecodynamics.

Vanhove, S, HJ Lee, J Van de Velde, A Dewicke, B Timmerman, T Janssens & M Vincx (in press) Meiobenthic biodiversity and fluxes within the Antarctic biogeochemical environment. In : S Caschetto (Ed), Belgian Research Programme on the Antarctic : Scientific results of phase IV (1997-2000).

Campaign reports

Dahms, H.-U., R.L. Herman & E. Schockaert, 1990. Meiobenthos on the Halley Bay and Kapp Norvegia transects. In: The Expedition ANTARKTIS VII/4 (Epos leg 3) and VII/5 of RV “Polarstern” in 1989. Reports on Polar Research, 68: 91-96.

Vanhove, S., H.-U. Dahms, H.J. Lee & J. Vanaverbeke, 1997. Benthos: Community related research: Meiobenthos. In: The Expedition ANTARKTIS XIII/3 (EASIZ I) of RV “Polarstern” in 1996. Reports on Polar Research, 249: 17-24.

Gutt, J., A. Buschmann, W. Dimmler, N. Frey, D. Gerdes, H. Bohlmann, T. Grünwald, H.J. Lee, F. Niederjasper, T. Schickan & S. Vanhove, 1997. Benthos: Community related research: The Impact of Icebergs on Benthic Assemblages. In: The Expedition ANTARKTIS XIII/3 (EASIZ I) of RV “Polarstern” in 1996. Reports on Polar Research, 249: 35-41.

Lee, HJ, 1999. Benthic resilience: effects of iceberg scouring on benthos and fish: effect of iceberg disturbance and recovery of meiofauna. In: The Expedition ANTARKTIS XV/3 (EASIZ II) of RV “Polarstern” in 1998. Reports on Polar Research, 301: 28-30.

Lee, HJ, & J. Van de Velde, 1999. Biodiversity and Biogeography: Biodiversity of Antarctic Nematodes. In: The Expedition ANTARKTIS XV/3 (EASIZ II) of RV “Polarstern” in 1998. Reports on Polar Research, 301: 175-177.

Janssens, T & A Dewicke, 2001. Pelagobenthic coupling and the role of benthic suspension feeders: The role of meiobenthos in the food web. In: The Expedition ANTARKTIS XVII/3 (EASIZ III) of RV “Polarstern” in 2000. Reports on Polar Research, 402: 56-57.

Gerdes, D, T. Janssens & A Dewicke, 2001. Biodiversity and Biogeography: Quantitative zoobenthos studies. In: The Expedition ANTARKTIS XVII/3 (EASIZ III) of RV “Polarstern” in 2000. Reports on Polar Research, 402: 111-113.

Janssens, T. & A Dewicke, 2001. Ecophysiology and adaptative strategies: Respiration of meiofauna under varying food and temperature conditions. In: The Expedition ANTARKTIS XVII/3 (EASIZ III) of RV “Polarstern” in 2000. Reports on Polar Research, 402: 131-132.

Vanreusel A, De Mesel I (2003) Biogeography and biodiversity patterns of the metazoan meiobenthos in deep Antarctic waters with special emphasis on free-living marine nematodes. In: The Expeditions ANTARKTIS-XIX/3-4 of the Research vessel Polarstern in 2002. Reports on Polar Research 470: 57-61

Eveline, H, T. Soltwedel, S. Vanhove, A. Vanreusel (2004) Cruise report ARKTIS XIX/3, Klages, M, J Thiede.The temporal variation in the meiobenthos along a bathymetrical gradient (‘Hausgarten’, Arctica): impact of climate oscillations, p277-280. Reports on Polar and Marine Research, 355.
De Mesel I, Ingels J (in prep) Biogeography, diversity and feeding ecology of metazoan meiobenthos in the Antarctic deep-sea, with emphasis on free-living nematodes. Reports on Polar Research

Symposium abstracts

Vanhove, S & M Vincx (1990) The vertical distribution patterns of meiobenthic density and biomass in tropical mangrove sediments. Belgian Journal of Zoology 120(1), p 60-61. BCZ 1 : First Belgian Congress of Zoology, België, Antwerpen, 16-17 november 1990.

Vanhove, S, RPM Bak & RL Herman (1991) Relation between nematode feeding types and characteristics of benthic bacterial and protozoan communities in the inner Weddell Sea (Antarctica). Abstarct book EPOS symposium, p80, Duitsland, Bremerhaven, 22-27 mei 1991.

Vanhove, S, RL Herman, G De Smet & M Vincx (1991) Size distribution of the nematode communities in the Halley Bay area (Weddell Sea, Antarctica). Abstarcts book EPOS symposium, p80, Duitsland, Bremerhaven, 22-27 mei 1991.

Vanhove, S & J Wittoeck (1993) Meiobenthic stocks on the continental shelf and slope of the southeastern Weddell Sea, Antarctica.
BNCO : Progress in Belgian Oceanographic Research, België, Academie Brussel, 21-22 januari 1993.

Vanhove, S (1993) Meiobenthic seasonality in the Weddell Sea, Antarctica. Abstract book EMBS 28 : The Biology and Ecology of shallow coastal waters, p 54, Hersonissos, Kreta, 23-28 september 1993.

Vanhove, S (1994) Are antarctic deep-sea meiobenthic communities fundamentally different from the meiofauna in other deep-sea areas of the world? 1. Kapp Norvegia. Abstract book SCAR 6 : Biology Symposium, Antarctic communities : Species, Structure and Survival, Italië, p 276, Venetië, 30 mei-3 juni 1994.

Vanhove, S, T Moens, A Vierstraete, M Beghyn & M Vincx (1994) A simple method for the assessment of oxygen consumption by nematodes : adaptations to lower temperatures? Abstract book International Nematology Symposium 22, p 131, België, Gent, 7-12 augustus 1994.

Vincx, M, S Vanhove, M Beghyn & RL Herman (1994) Role of the meiobenthos in the Antarctic ecosystem, Abstract book IGBP Core projects and the Belgian IGBP-research, p 130, België, Academie Brussel, 12-13 oktober 1994.

Vanhove, S. (1994) Meiobenthos in Antarctica. 10 JAAR BELGICA, Dialoog tussen de wetenschappers en de gebruikers van de zee. België, Oostende, 17-19 oktober 1994.

Vanhove, S. (1995) Meiobenthology in Antarctica. IZWO : kontaktdag ‘Antarctica’, België, Brugge, 21 juni 1995

Vanhove, S (1995) Deep-sea meiofauna communities in Antarctica : structural analysis and relation with environment. Abstract book NIMCO : 9th international meiofauna conference, p29, Frankrijk, Perpignan, 3-7 juli 1995
Vanhove, S (1995) Meiobenthic seasonality in the Weddell Sea, Antarctica. Abstract book NIMCO : 9th international meiofauna conference, p94, Frankrijk, Perpignan, 3-7 juli 1995

Vanhove, S (1995) Meiobenthic stocks on the continental shelf and slope of the Southeastern Weddell Sea, Antarctica. Abstract book JGOFS: Carbon Fluxes and Dynamic Processes in the Southern ocean: Present and Past, p 140-141, Brest, 28-31 augustus 1995

Vanhove, S & M Vincx (1996) Meiobenthic diversity in the Weddell Sea : adaptation to the environmental conditions of Antarctica? Abstract book BENELUX CONGRESS OF ZOOLOGY 3: Adaptation, from molecules to communities, p 20, België, Namur, 8-9 november 1996.

Hee-Joong Lee, Vanhove, S & M Vincx (1996) Recolonisation of meiofauna in an iceberg scour area at the coast of Signy Island, Antarctica. Abstract book BENELUX CONGRESS OF ZOOLOGY 3: Adaptation, from molecules to communities, p 20, België, Namur, 8-9 november 1996.

Vanhove, S (1997) Meiobentic seasonality in a near-shore marine sediment at Antarctica, DODONAEA symposium van het Koninklijk Natuurwetenschappelijk Genootschap : Populaties, natuurlijk en gemanipuleerd, België, Gent, 29 oktober 1997.

Vanhove, S (1998) Meiobenthic ecology in Antarctica. 1898 – 1998 BELGICA CENTENNIAL SYMPOSIUM, België, Brussel, 14-16 mei 1998.

Hee-Joong Lee, S Vanhove & M Vincx (1998) Recolonization of meiofauna in an iceberg scour on the coast of Signy Island, Antarctica. XIMCO 10th international meiofauna conference, Engeland, Plymouth, 27-31 juli 1998.

Hee-Joong Lee, S Vanhove & M Vincx (1999) Disturbance of the meiofauna communities after iceberg-scouring in the Weddell Sea. EASIZ, Ecology of the Antarctic Sea Ice Zone, Duitsland, Bremerhaven, 22-23 juni 1999.

Vanhove, S, T Janssens, A Dewicke, T Moens & M Vincx (2001) Can we use the meiofauna as a tool for experimental designs in Antarctica? ELIMCO 11th international meiofauna conference, Boston, Massachussetts, 15-20 juli 2001.

Lee, HJ, S Vanhove & M Vincx (2001) Comparison of free-living marine nematode biodiversity in the (sub) Antarctic. VIII SCAR International Biology Symposium, Antarctic Biology in a Global Context, Amsterdam, Nederland, Aug 27- Sept 1, 2001.

Vanhove, S, T Janssens, A Dewicke, T Moens & M Vincx (2001) Can we use the meiofauna as a tool for experimental designs in Antarctica? VIII SCAR International Biology Symposium, Antarctic Biology in a Global Context, Amsterdam, Nederland, Aug 27- Sept 1, 2001.

Vanhove, S, T Deprez, G De Smet, A Vanreusel & M Vincx (2002) Biodiversity of Antarctic Nematodes: The “NEMASLAN” project. Voor het symposium “The Colour of Ocean Data”, Brussel, België, Nov 25- Nov 27, 2002.

Vermeeren, H., S. Vanhove & A. Vanreusel (2002) Biogeography of Antarctic deep-sea nematodes: species turn-over in dominant genera of the family Chromadoridae. 9th Benelux Congress of Zoology “Adaptations and Constraint”, Antwerpen,België, Nov 8-9, 2002.

Vermeeren, H., S. Vanhove & A. Vanreusel (2002) Biogeography of Antarctic deep-sea nematodes: species turn-over in dominant genera of the family Chromadoridae. VLIZ Young Scientists’ Day, Brugge, Belgium, Feb 28, 2003

Vanreusel, A, A Muthumbi, M Raes, S Van Gaever, S Vanhove, H Vermeeren(2003) High nematode species diversity in the deep sea: correlations and causes for diversification within genera? Deep-Sea Biology Symposium,Oregon Coast, US, Aug 25-29, 2003.

Vermeeren, H, S Vanhove & A Vanreusel (2003) Meiofauna from the South Sandwich Trench: Andeep meets Lampos. IBMANT (Interactions Between the Magellan Region and the Antarctic) -ANDEEP (Antarctic Benthic Deep-Sea Biodiversity:
Colonisation, History and Recent Community Patterns) Symposium, Ushuaia, Argentina, Oct 19-24, 2003.

Vanhove, S, HJ Lee & H Vermeeren (2003) Digging in the deep Southern Ocean: meiofauna and nematodes. IBMANT (Interactions Between the Magellan Region and the Antarctic) -ANDEEP (Antarctic Benthic Deep-Sea Biodiversity:
Colonisation, History and Recent Community Patterns) Symposium, Ushuaia, Argentina, Oct 19-24, 2003.

Vanhove, S, T Deprez, G De Smet, A Vanreusel & M Vincx (2003) Biodiversity of Antarctic Nematodes: recent database developments within “Nemys”. IBMANT (Interactions Between the Magellan Region and the Antarctic) -ANDEEP (Antarctic Benthic Deep-Sea Biodiversity: Colonisation, History and Recent Community Patterns) Symposium, Ushuaia, Argentina, Oct 19-24, 2003.

Vermeeren, H, S Vanhove &A Vanreusel (2003) Biogeography of Antarctic deep-sea nematodes: species turn-over in dominant genera of the family Chromadoridae. IBMANT (Interactions Between the Magellan Region and the Antarctic) -ANDEEP (Antarctic Benthic Deep-Sea Biodiversity: Colonisation, History and Recent Community Patterns) Symposium, Ushuaia, Argentina, Oct 19-24, 2003.

Vanhove, S, I De Mesel, W Bonne, RL Herman, D Schram, D Van Gansbeke, A, Van kenhove &A Vanreusel (2003) The depositional environment of the Scotia and Weddell Sea: overview of benthic environmental data gathered from LAMPOS-ANDEEP. IBMANT (Interactions between the Magellan Region and the Antarctic) -ANDEEP (Antarctic Benthic Deep-Sea Biodiversity: Colonisation, History and Recent Community Patterns) Symposium, Ushuaia, Argentina ,Oct 19-24, 2003.

Hoste, E, T. Soltwedel, S. Vanhove, A. Vanreusel (2003) The temporal variation in the meiobenthos along a bathymetrical gradient (‘Hausgarten’, Arctica): impact of climate oscillations. 38th European Marine Biology Symposium (EMBS), Aveiro, Portugal.

Vanhove, S, (2004) Antarctic meiofauna research has left its childhood (?!?).TWIMCO, Ravenna, Italy, July 11-16, 2004.

Vanhove, S, T Deprez, G De Smet, A Vanreusel & M Vincx (2004) Recent database developments within “Nemys”. TWIMCO, Ravenna, Italy, July 11-16, 2004.

Hoste, E., Soltwedel, T., Vanhove, S., Vanreusel, A.(2004) The temporal variation in the meiobenthos along a bathymetrical gradient (“Hausgarten”, Arctica): impact of climate oscillations. TWIMCO, Ravenna, Italy, July 11-16, 2004.

Fonseca, G., Vanreusel, A., Vanhove, S (2004) What is the distribution range of deep-sea nematode species along bathymetric transects and geographical gradients? TWIMCO, Ravenna, Italy, July 11-16, 2004.

De Mesel I, Vanhove S, Vanreusel A (2005) How typical is meiofauna in Antarctica? 9th SCAR International Biology Symposium, Curitiba, Brazil

Others

De Broyer, C, Hecq, J-H, Vanhove, S (2001) Life under the ice: biodiversity of the Southern Ocean. In: The Belgica Expedition Centennial: Perspectives on Antarctic Science and History (VUB Brussels University Press): 271-286

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