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Quantification of benthic invertebrate burrow architecture

Project Description

Project Rationale:
Marine sediments provide habitat for a wide range of organisms and exploitation of this three-dimensional environment is important in mediating major ecosystem properties. In particular, the burrowing and construction activities of sediment-dwelling invertebrates redistribute pore water fluids and sediment particles, profoundly influencing biogeochemical processes. Insights about organism-sediment relations, however, have largely been restricted to a single dimension by tracking the vertical redistribution of various particulate tracers. Whilst these observations have been informative, over reliance on methodology that does not consider multiple planes and geometries perpetuates a limited view of what constitutes the functional role of a species. Detailed 3D characterisations of biogenic structures - tubes, burrows, mounds and pits - are rare and are not a prominent feature of functional classifications. There is a paucity of information on key features of biogenic structures, including length, diameter, volume and configuration, and whether such information is of utility in distinguishing the functional standing of individual species. The aim of this studentship is to use a range of imaging methodologies, including acoustics, high-resolution computed tomography, aerial drones, and/or ground penetrating radar, to develop a functionally relevant typology for biogenic structures and distinguish the role of species activity from biogenic engineering in determining ecosystem functioning.

Funding Notes

You can apply for fully-funded studentships (stipend and fees) from INSPIRE if you:
Are a UK or EU national.
Have no restrictions on how long you can stay in the UK.
Have been 'ordinarily resident' in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the project.

Please click View Website for more information on eligibilty and how to apply


Hale R, Mavrogordato MN, Tolhurst TJ, Solan M, (2014) Characterizations of how species mediate ecosystem properties require more comprehensive functional effect descriptors. Scientific Reports 4: 10.1038/srep06463.
Hardy RJ, Best JL, Parsons DR et al. (2016) On the evolution and form of coherent flow structures over a gravel bed: Insights from whole flow field visualization and measurement. Journal of Geophysical Research 121: 1472-1493
Solan M, Ward ER, White EL, et al. (2019) Worldwide measurements of bioturbation intensity, ventilation rate, and the mixing depth of marine sediments. Scientific Data 6, 58. doi: 10.1038/s41597-019-0069-7

How good is research at University of Southampton in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 68.62

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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