New, innovative technologies developed and integrated within the EU-project COBO (Coastal Ocean Benthic Observatory) will be used to study benthic responses to natural and anthropogenic factors. The primary objective of COBO is to integrate emerging and innovative technologies from different disciplines (physics, chemistry, biology, and imagery) to provide in situ experimentation and monitoring of sediment ecosystems. The Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) leads a workpackage within the COBO-project developing an Integrated Sediment Disturber (ISD), in order to understand the complex interactions between the biota (their functioning and diversity) and environmental pertubations. The ISD frame carries three rotating fork-like disturber units, which will repeatedly rework surface sediments simulating physical disturbances. Disturber arms are 50 cm in length generating a circular reworked area of about 0.75 m². Three disturbed zones and an undisturbed control area will be monitored continuously using a digital camera and a microprofiler with oxygen microelectrodes. To study disturbance effects on the benthic community sediment sampling will be carried out using coring devices handled either by divers or a remotely controlled vehicle (ROV). This will allow the investigation of biodiversity shifts in response to pertubation and the changing chemical condition of the sediment. The ISD frame can be lowered to the seafloor on a wire (shallow-water version), however, there are attachment points for floats allowing to convert the ISD frame into a free-falling device (bottom-lander version). Integrated observations of the natural environment at high spatial and temporal resolution will enable a quantitative description of the fundamental processes governing the interaction between the biota and its chemical environment in the sediment. The ISD will be developed in close cooperation with CEFAS (Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science, UK) and CEA (Commissariat á lŽEnergie Atomique, France).
Helmholtz Research Programs > MARCOPOLI (2004-2008) > POL7-From permafrost to deep sea in the Arctic