One member of the BIOMAR Lab (Quentin Jossart, scientific collaborator from Univ. Bourgogne) recently realized a fieldwork in the Falkland Islands to investigate intertidal communities. The project aims at better understanding the diversity of these underexplored communities and at characterizing the biogeographic affinities with other regions of the Southern Ocean… while bringing relevant data for conservation purposes.
The intertidal zone (seashore) is a critical environment at the interface of marine and terrestrial habitats, where inter-linked environmental and anthropogenic stressors occur. This zone is also often seen as a sentinel to preliminary detect the presence of non-native species. In polar regions, especially in the Southern Ocean, biological communities living in the intertidal zone remain largely underexplored both at the large scale (biogeographic patterns) and the local scale (main abiotic and biotic factors structuring these communities).
This Falkland Islands fieldwork occurred in the context of a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship “BIORISC” (“Biogeography and Resilience of Intertidal Southern Ocean Communities”) and an international collaboration with Narissa Bax (South Atlantic Environmental Research Institute, SAERI). The Falkland Islands represent an ideal study case, considering its various types of habitats and its geographic situation at the convergence of multiple oceanic currents. The fieldwork mainly consisted in the sampling of marine organisms, combined with in situ abundance measurements. A dozen of samplings took place in contrasted sites from the East Falklands, highlighting an important diversity of invertebrates (e.g., crustaceans, mollusks, sea stars). The specimens will be soon further investigated both morphologically and genetically in order to better shed the light on the composition and structure of these communities. In addition, the results will be shared with the Environment Department of the Falkland Islands Government (FIG) for potential use in local conservation purposes.
This research and fieldwork were featured (short interview) on the local FITV channel :