PhD dissertation: Weathering the storm: How benthic macrofauna respond to dynamic intertidal sediments


Wiesebron studied how intertidal benthic macrofauna (like bivalves and worms) respond to environmental stress, such as sudden disturbances to sediment from storms and systematic anthropogenic change from restoration projects. Because benthic macrofauna assemblages and behavior underpin many ecosystem services, it is vital to know how they respond to the highly variable environmental conditions of the intertidal.

Wiesebron found that benthic macrofauna burrowed faster and bioturbated more intensely in softer sediments, regardless of grain size. Furthermore, she found that species-specific behaviors and size-dependent traits regulate tolerances to extreme sediment erosion, which has consequences for bivalve population trajectories and long-term species success in a more storm-disturbed intertidal. Lastly, she found that while the creation of a low-dynamic habitat can stimulate benthic macrofauna biomass, extremely high silt content, which is typical for low-dynamic habitats, may slow the benthic community development.

By exploring the effects of sediment dynamics on benthic macrofauna, we can help clarify the complex animal-sediment interactions that occur on intertidal flats. Finally, findings of this thesis can be applied towards improving the design of restoration initiative for benthic macrofauna habitat and increasing our understanding of the resilience of benthic macrofauna assemblages to climate change.

Start date and time
End date and time
Academiegebouw, Domplein 29, Utrecht
PhD candidate
Lauren E. Wiesebron
Weathering the storm : How benthic macrofauna respond to dynamic intertidal sediments
PhD supervisor(s)
prof. dr. T.J. Bouma
dr. T.J.W. Ysebaert