Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research

Dr. Rob Witbaard

Senior Scientist
Phone number
+31 (0)113 577 497/ 0222369537
Location
Yerseke
Function
Senior Scientist

Expertise

  • Sclerochronology, Reading the growth lines in shells
  • North Sea Marine Benthos -process studies
  • Valve gape recording of bivalves.
  • In situ experimentation with lander technology
  • development of measurement tools/equipment

 

I was trained as a limnologist at the University of Amsterdam between 1982 and 1988. During that study I became involved in work at the open North Sea and found this so fascinating that "workwise", I never left the open Sea. The challenge of sampling at unknown places and the technological challenges connected to in-situ measurements hooked me to this kind of research. Up to now I have worked from coastal subtidal areas to full oceanic depths. The emphasis of the work lies mainly in the processes affecting and structuring the benthic communities and experimental autecological studies.  In respect to the latter I have special interests in the technological challenges related to in situ experimentation.

I started with a study on the effects of bioturbation by the burrowing mud shrimp Callianassa subterranea . A common species in the muddy bottoms of the central North Sea. I managed to make a quantification of burrow volume and surface area on basis of resin casts of the burrows.

Later I got involved in the age determination and longevity of bivalves with special emphasis on the ocean quahog (Arctica islandica) which resulted in a Ph.D titled "Tree of the Sea".  It explored the use of internal shell growth lines as means to reconstruct marine environmental/climatological change and was the first published long time series (>100 years) based on the growth lines of a bivalve. Various other applications of the growth lines have been demonstrated among which the reconstruction of fishing intensity on basis of scars in shells.

The study  generated awareness about the vulnerability of large long living molluscs and their use as environmental health indicators for benthic ecosystems. Within OSPAR and the EU water frame work, ocean quahogs (Arctica islandica)  are nowadays seen as an important indicator species for sea floor integrity. 

Since my Ph.D I kept on working on the ecology of the ocean quahog. At the moment I am doing an behavioural study in northern Norway. With a so called "Valve-Gape-Monitor". Withinf the Marie Curie Trainings Network (Aramacc) the filtration response of 16 individuals at a minute resolution since february 2014 is followed.  This study gives insight in the seasonality and the important environmental factors which control the behavior.

Besides work on the growth of bivalves have I been involved in various EU "deep - sea" projects, measuring in situ fluxes and oxygen consumption up to depths of 4800 meter at the Porcupine abyssal plain. Recently I participated in two cruises, one to the Black Sea and one to the Baltic. Last summer we used the equipment in the Whithard Canyon south of Ireland. The in situ lander technique is also used in shallower water such as the North Sea where the technique was used to study the ecosystem effects of beamtrawling versus puls-wing trawling in June 2017. 

 

 

 

 

Linked blogs

Tuesday 13 June 2017
NIOZ@Sea: North Sea expedition
Seven PhD students, three senior scientists, two assistants and the 12-headed Pelagia crew will embark on a scientific research cruise to the North Sea in the first two weeks of June.
Sunday 28 May 2017
NIOZ@Sea: Whittard Canyon Expedition
The unknown role of Submarine canyons – Pathways or sinks for Organic Carbon? Follow the blogs of NIOZ researchers aboard R.V. Pelagia as they cruise the Whittard Canyon complex situated in the Bay of Biscay.

NIOZ publications

  • 2017
    Ballesta-Artero, I.; Witbaard, R.; Carroll, M.L.; Van der Meer, J. (2017). Environmental factors regulating gaping activity of the bivalve Arctica islandica in Northern Norway. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 164(5): 116. https://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00227-017-3144-7
    Milano, S.; Schöne, B.R.; Witbaard, R. (2017). Changes of shell microstructural characteristics of Cerastoderma edule (Bivalvia) — A novel proxy for water temperature. Palaeogeogr. Palaeoclimatol. Palaeoecol. 465: 395-406. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2015.09.051
    van der Hout, C.M.; Witbaard, R.; Bergman, M.J.N.; Duineveld, G.C.A.; Rozemeijer, M.J.C.; Gerkema, T. (2017). The dynamics of suspended particulate matter (SPM) and chlorophyll- a from intratidal to annual time scales in a coastal turbidity maximum. J. Sea Res. 127: 105-118. https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.seares.2017.04.011
    Witbaard, R.; Bergman, M.J.N.; van Weerlee, E.M.; Duineveld, G.C.A. (2017). An estimation of the effects of Ensis directus on the transport and burial of silt in the near-shore Dutch coastal zone of the North Sea. J. Sea Res. in press. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.seares.2016.12.001
  • 2015
    Lindeboom, H.; Rijnsdorp, A.D.; Witbaard, R.; Slijkerman, D.; Kraan, M. (2015). Het ecologisch belang van het Friese Front. IMARES Wageningen Report, C137/15 A. IMARES Wageningen UR: Wageningen. 24 pp.
    van Kooten, T.; van Denderen, D.; Glorius, S.; van der Wal, J.T.; Witbaard, R.; Ruardij, P.; Lavaleye, M.; Slijkerman, D. (2015). An exploratory analysis of environmental conditions and trawling on species richness and benthic ecosystem structure in the Frisian Front and Central Oyster Grounds. IMARES Wageningen Report, C037/15. IMARES Wageningen UR: Wageningen. 47 pp.
    Witbaard, R.; Duineveld, G.C.A.; Bergman, M.J.N.; Witte, H. Y.; Groot, L.; Rozemeijer, M.J.C. (2015). The growth and dynamics of Ensis directus in the near-shore Dutch coastal zone of the North Sea. J. Sea Res. 95: 95–105. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.seares.2014.09.008
  • 2013
    Cardoso, J.F.M.F.; Nieuwland, G.; Witbaard, R.; van der Veer, H.W.; Machado, J.P. (2013). Growth increment periodicity in the shell of the razor clam Ensis directus using stable isotopes as a method to validate age. Biogeosciences 10(7): 4741-4750. dx.doi.org/10.5194/bg-10-4741-2013
    Cardoso, J.F.M.F.; Santos, S.; Witte, J.IJ.; Witbaard, R.; van der Veer, H.W.; Machado, J.P. (2013). Validation of the seasonality in growth lines in the shell of Macoma balthica using stable isotopes and trace elements. J. Sea Res. 82: 93-102. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.seares.2012.09.006
    Hippler, D.; Witbaard, R.; van Aken, H.M.; Buhl, D.; Immenhauser, A. (2013). Exploring the calcium isotope signature of Arctica islandica as an environmental proxy using laboratory- and field-cultured specimens. Palaeogeogr. Palaeoclimatol. Palaeoecol. 373: 75-87. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2011.11.015
    Witbaard, R.; Duineveld, G.C.A.; Bergman, M.J.N. (2013). The final report on the growth and dynamics of Ensis directus in the near coastal zone off Egmond, in relation to environmental conditions in 2011-2012. NIOZ-rapport, 2013-2. NIOZ: Texel. 79 pp.
    Witbaard, R.; Lavaleye, M.; Duineveld, G.C.A.; Bergman, M.J.N. (2013). Atlas of the megabenthos (incl. small fish) on the Dutch continental shelf of the North Sea. NIOZ-rapport, 2013-4. NIOZ: Texel. 221 pp.
  • 2012
    Duineveld, G.C.A.; Jeffreys, R.M.; Lavaleye, M.S.S.; Davies, A.J.; Bergman, M.J.N.; Watmough, T.; Witbaard, R. (2012). Spatial and tidal variation in food supply to shallow cold-water coral reefs of the Mingulay Reef complex (Outer Hebrides, Scotland). Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 444: 97-115. dx.doi.org/10.3354/meps09430
    Leduc, D.; Rowden, A.A.; Bowden, D.A.; Nodder, S.D.; Probert, P.K.; Pilditch, C.A.; Duineveld, G.C.A.; Witbaard, R. (2012). Nematode beta diversity on the continental slope of New Zealand: spatial patterns and environmental drivers. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 454: 37-+. dx.doi.org/10.3354/meps09690
    Leduc, D.; Rowden, A.A.; Probert, P.K.; Pilditch, C.A.; Nodder, S.D.; Vanreusel, A.; Duineveld, G.C.A.; Witbaard, R. (2012). Further evidence for the effect of particle-size diversity on deep-sea benthic biodiversity. Deep-Sea Res., Part 1, Oceanogr. Res. Pap. 63: 164-169. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.dsr.2011.10.009
    Saraiva, S.; van der Meer, J.; Kooijman, S.A.L.M.; Witbaard, R.; Philippart, C.J.M.; Hippler, D.; Parker, R. (2012). Validation of a Dynamic Energy Budget (DEB) model for the blue mussel Mytilus edulis. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 463: 141-158. dx.doi.org/10.3354/meps09801
    Scourse, J.D.; Wanamaker jr., A.D.; Weidman, C.; Heinemeier, J.; Reimer, P.J.; Butler, P.G.; Witbaard, R.; Richardson, C.A. (2012). The marine radiocarbon bomb pulse across the temperate North Atlantic: a compilation of Delta 14 Time Histories from Arctica Islandica Growth Increments. Radiocarbon 54(2): 165-186
  • 2011
    Cardoso, J.; Nieuwland, G.; Wijsman, J.; Witbaard, R.; van der Veer, H.W. (2011). Validation of a method for age determination in the razor clam Ensis directus. NIOZ-rapport, 2011-9. NIOZ: Texel. 33 pp.
    Jeffreys, R.M.; Lavaleye, M.S.S.; Bergman, M.J.N.; Duineveld, G.C.A.; Witbaard, R. (2011). Do abyssal scavengers use phytodetritus as a food resource? Video and biochemical evidence from the Atlantic and Mediterranean. Deep-Sea Res., Part 1, Oceanogr. Res. Pap. 58(4): 415-428. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.dsr.2011.02.002

Linked projects

ARAMACC algemeen
Supervisor
Rob Witbaard
Funder
European Community || Marie Curie
Project duration
1 Sep 2013 - 16 Mar 2018