Integrating new technologies for the study of benthic ecosystem response to human activity: Towards a Coastal Ocean Benthic Observatory (COBO) (Poster)

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Apitz, S. E. , Bell, E. , Gilbert, F. , Hall, P. , Kershaw, P. , Nickell, L. , Parker, R. , Rabouille, C. , Shimmield, G. , Solan, M. , Soltwedel, T. , Spagnoli, F. , Stahl, H. , Waltpersdorf, E. and Witte, U. (2006): Integrating new technologies for the study of benthic ecosystem response to human activity: Towards a Coastal Ocean Benthic Observatory (COBO) (Poster) , XVII Congress of the Italian Association of Oceanology and Limnology, Napoli, Italia.-07.07.2006. .
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Coastal ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to anthropogenic perturbation, affecting biodiversity and ecosystem stability and resilience. Shallow water sediments and their associated biota represent a reservoir for biodiversity, hosting resting and reproductive stages of planktonic organisms, and regulating carbon and nutrient biogeochemical cycles. However, the relationship between tightly coupled biological and geochemical processes in this environment is poorly defined with respect to their temporal and spatial variability.The overall objective of COBO is to integrate emerging and innovative technologies from different disciplines (physics, chemistry, biology, imagery) to provide in situ monitoring of sediment habitats, a key component of coastal marine ecosystems, in order to understand complex interactions between the biota (function and diversity) and their chemical environment. Existing technologies have limited spatial and temporal sampling resolutions which has hampered progress in determining key parameters and, in explaining biogeochemical patterns / processes and in modelling ecosystem dynamics. Improved in situ technologies are required to provide rigorous scientific information on processes regulating this unique and fragile habitat and for assessing, controlling and minimising human impact on European coastal waters. The combination of innovative instruments from different scientific disciplines will provide powerful tools to significantly advance our understanding of organism -sediment relations under dynamic coastal conditions and enhance predictive capability.The main activity of COBO is:- Integration of sediment profile imagery (SPI) and Optodes for their simultaneous deployment. This will then allow for the measurement of bi-dimensional fields of oxygen with a visual link to macrofaunal movement.- Development of a scale integrated sediment disturber which working area will be monitored continuously using digital cameras and micro-profilers with oxygen microelectrodes and, at the start and end points, by examining sediment cores.- Development of a chamber capable of regulating oxygen (oxystat) equipped with nitrate sensors.- Integration of manipulated benthic chambers capable of particle and liquid addition and sediment resuspension.- Development of smart and adaptable systems integrating control electronics capable of reaction to external events.- Development of numerical tools consisting of building 2D models of early diagenesis and sediment-organism relationship.

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