Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research

Hydrodynamic ecology: unraveling hydrodynamic effects

Within estuaries, delta’s and shallow coastal zones, organisms are continuously exposed to i) on the one hand biotic interactions, and ii) on the other hand, hydrodynamic forces from waves and/or tidal currents. The biotic interactions may however be altered by these hydrodynamic forces, as 

  • species may alter their behavior in response to hydrodynamic forcing, 
  • different species may have a different sensitivity to these hydrodynamic forces in that they may experience them as a different stress levels,
  • resource supply may be altered by physical forcing.

At this moment, hydrodynamic forcing is greatly modified by humans, due to climate change and coastal construction. At the same time, over the last decades, ecological communities have been greatly altered due to humans introducing invasive species and over-exploiting local species.

Within this research, we aim to unravel for inter- and shallow sub-tidal areas, how hydrodynamic forces affect:

  • behavior of (key-stone) species
  • resource supply to species
  • species interactions
  • ecological community composition and functioning
  • if the above may have trait-based underlying mechanisms

The research is carried out by deploying manipulative experiments in wave mesocosms as well as different types of flumes where we can manipulate flow.

Contact: Tjeerd Bouma