Benthic Ecology

Principal Investigator:
Francisco Arenas

The team aims to explore the extensive sea bottom from the most accessible to the most remote areas. Benthic Ecology Team research is focused on:
  • Unravelling biodiversity patterns on marine benthic communities across space and time. We aim to foster our understanding of how species abundances vary in space and time and the scale dependence of those changes. This knowledge is fundamental to identify the underlying ecological drivers that influence biological diversity in the marine realm.
  • Investigative the structural and functional impacts of global (and local) stressors on marine ecosystems. In the last decades, marine ecologists have struggled to improve our understanding of how stressors impacts on organisms scale up to natural ecosystems and the prevalence of synergistic or non-synergistic interactions among stressors. Structural changes on assemblages with the new environmental conditions are expected from species tolerance variability, but also from changes in species interactions. Such new diversity scenarios may substantially modify ecosystem-level aggregate functions such as energy fluxes or stability. Impacts from multiple interacting stressors cannot be predicted from knowledge on single stressors effects and this impossibility prevents any forecasting of future alterations. 
  • Develop tools for forecasting future diversity scenarios, specifically considering synergistic global stressors like climate change & biological invasions. Information on direct functional responses and vulnerability to environmental drivers from the experimental studies can be integrated into mechanistic process based models like physiological threshold species distribution models (SDMs). Mechanistic models allow to incorporate physiological knowledge within species distribution models to make more robust predictions of shifts on species range and include local adaptation. We also aim to incorporate species interactions in the models. These models are essential for improved conclusions about detection and attribution of vulnerabilities in coastal systems with large management and conservation relevance.

The group comprises the development of nature-based solutions, towards sustainability of territories, ecosystem services provision, as tools for climate change adaptation and mitigation and to underpin the Sustainable Development Goals.



Publications Highlights

Tiller, R., F. Arenas, C. Galdies, F. Leitão, A. Malej, B. M. Romera, C. Solidoro, R. Stojanov, V. Turk, and R. Guerra. 2019. Who cares about ocean acidification in the Plasticene? Ocean & Coastal Management 174:170-180. 
Dolbeth, M., D. Crespo, S. Leston, and M. Solan. 2019. Realistic scenarios of environmental disturbance lead to functionally important changes in benthic species-environment interactions. Mar Environ Res 150:104770. 
Amaro, T., R. Danovaro, Y. Matsui, E. Rastelli, G. Wolff, and H. Nomaki. 2019. Possible links between holothurian lipid compositions and differences in organic matter (OM) supply at the western Pacific abyssal plains. Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers:103085. 
Bulleri, F., B. K. Eriksson, A. Queirós, L. Airoldi, F. Arenas, C. Arvanitidis, T. J. Bouma, T. P. Crowe, D. Davoult, K. Guizien, L. Iveša, S. R. Jenkins, R. Michalet, C. Olabarria, G. Procaccini, E. A. Serrão, M. Wahl, and L. Benedetti-Cecchi. 2018. Harnessing positive species interactions as a tool against climate-driven loss of coastal biodiversity. PLoS Biol 16:e2006852. 
Franco, J. N., F. Tuya, I. Bertocci, L. Rodríguez, B. Martinez, I. Sousa‐Pinto, and F. Arenas. 2017. The ‘golden kelp’ Laminaria ochroleuca under global change: integrating multiple eco‐physiological responses with species distribution models. Journal of Ecology 106:47-58.