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Kei Matsuyama

Institution:Senckenberg am Meer Wilhelmshaven
Phone:+49 4421 9475 - 243
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Other webpage(s):Kei's Senckenberg web page
Kei Matsuyama

PhD project:

Biodiversity assessment of cold-water coral-associated bryozoan communities under contrasting environmental conditions in Mediterranean and Atlantic continental margin settings

The presence of light-independent corals and their extent beyond shallow waters or lower latitudes has been known since the 18th century. However, detailed research only started with the advent of advanced hydro-acoustic settings and remotely operated vehicles in the 1970s. This pattern also applies for its associated fauna. Concentrating on bryozoans, there have been records starting around the beginning of the last century. In recent years investigations regarding bryozans on cold-water corals increased, although not reaching the attention other phyla gained.

Cold-water corals in the NE-Atlantic allow the reconstruction of past climate changes and productivity regimes by observations of the (re)-colonising pattern of these coral reefs. Because they are acting as active frame builders, they attract a rich benthic fauna with over 4000 associated species reported so far. Especially for those animals needing a hard substrate to settle on, which includes bryozoans, they are of large importance in an otherwise mostly soft-bottomed habitat. They are also economically important as the high diversity and shelter provided by coral framework serves as nurseries for fishes.

The material to be investigated has already been sampled and comes from the NE-Atlantic shelf (Norway to Mauretania), the Mediterranean and off Florida. However, it is intended to sample some more during research cruises, as bryozoans are usually inconspicuous and easily overlooked.

The aims of this project are:
  1. Assessing the biodiversity of cold-water coral-associated bryozoans. This will probably include revision of existing taxa, because most of the descriptions were made before the introduction of advanced imaging techniques like scanning electron microscopy. It is further very likely that new species will be discovered. Another aspect is the presence of cold-water coral-specific bryozoan species.
  2. Using the obtained taxonomic data, the dispersion pattern of bryozoans after the last glaciation event can be reconstructed, addressing following questions: Did the bryozoans follow the dispersion pattern of the corals and if not, why not? This might be especially interesting as most of the larvae settle only a few hours after being released into the water column. Are there any oceanographic parameters limiting the dispersion of certain bryozoan species? Did these parameters change since the last glaciation?
  3. The few living cold-water coral-reefs in the Mediterranean are thought to be relict occurrences. Comparing the bryozoan fauna from this habitat with those from the Atlantic might show if there is a significant difference between the epibiontic bio- and thanatocoenosis. This will contribute to the assessment to what degree the restriction of the Mediterranean affects biological systems.
Integrating the results from the above mentioned aspects, a general hypothesis can be addressed:
The cold-water coral habitats serve as important stepping stones for the dispersal of bryozoans in and into deep waters.

Thesis committee:

Prof. Dr. André FreiwaldSenckenberg am Meer Wilhelmshaven
PD Dr. Joachim ScholzSenckenberg Research Institute, Frankfurt
Prof. Dr. Michal KuceraUniversity of Bremen