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MARINFORSK-Marine ressurser og miljø

Taxonomy and ecology of hydroids in Norwegian waters

Awarded: NOK 0.40 mill.

During the last decades, studies have demonstrated that the seabed represents heterogeneous ecosystems formed by a mosaic of different habitats, whose complexity and fragility requires special protection from human impacts. Related to this, the concept of Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs) emerged in 2009, defined as “groups of species, communities, or habitats that may be vulnerable to impacts from fishing activities”. At the same time, a series of requirements for their protection were established by the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations). This project will focus on the study of hydrozoan fauna as VMEs and ecosystem engineers. Even though recent studies have highlighted the capacity of hydroids to form three-dimensional habitats, the study of the biodiversity and ecology of benthic hydroids has been neglected in recent projects focusing on the seabed such as Mareano. A taxonomic assessment of the hydrozoan collections from Norwegian Museums and the Institute of Marine Research (IMR) will be undertaken during this project, to improve and update the knowledge about this invertebrate group in Norway. This study will also contribute to a more accurate identification of the hydrozoan communities based on video images recorded during the surveys carried out by MAREANO since 2006 along Norwegian continental margin. This project also includes participation in one MAREANO cruise and opportunistic sampling in the coastal area in the vicinity of the Flødevigen Research Station, Arendal. The study of freshly collected specimens will complement the existing samples and serve as a possibility of ground-truthing uncertain identifications from imagery and poorly preserved material. The overall objective for this study is to improve and update the knowledge of the Norwegian hydroid fauna, including characterisation of habitats, locating biodiversity hot-spots and hydroid forests, which may require special protection and management measures.

Funding scheme:

MARINFORSK-Marine ressurser og miljø