Staff Directory > Van der Heijden Luuk

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PhD (2015-2018)
Doctoral School of Environmental Science « Gay Lussac », University of La Rochelle
Original training :
Research master « Biomarine Science and Palaeoecology », Utrecht University, 2012-2014

Team : DYFEA

Keywords : food webs, modelling, coastal ecosystems, fluxes of organic matter, stable isotopes, fatty acids, meiofauna
Supervisor :
-  Benoit LEBRETON, Associate professor, University of La Rochelle, LIENSs UMR 7266, France
-  Harald ASMUS, Researcher, Alfred Wegener Institute – Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research – Wadden Sea Station Sylt, Germany
Funding : Doctoral contract from the Ministry of Higher Education and Research, France



Role of meiofauna in the functioning of soft-bottom coastal food webs
The general aim of this PhD thesis will be to determine how changes of food source properties affect fluxes of organic matter in soft bottom coastal habitats. A particular attention will be paid to trophic relationships between food sources (i.e., benthic diatoms, detrital matter, and phytoplankton) and the meiobenthic consumers. Different bays and habitats, fuelled by very different food resources, will be compared. Two bays will be studied: the Marennes-Oléron Bay, dominated by mudflats, and the Sylt-Rømø Bight, mostly dominated by sandflats. Studied habitats will be mudflats (dominated by epipelic microalgae), sandflats (dominated by epipsammic microalgae) and seagrass beds (characterized by a mixture of epipelic and epipsammic microalgae and high quantities of detrital organic matter). Many studies have been carried out on the functioning of these two coastal ecosystems. As a result, food web models of the Marennes-Oléron Bay and of the Sylt-Rømø Bight have already been built mostly based on relationships between food resources and macrofauna. Results obtained during this PhD will be included into pre-existing models; to improve the knowledge about the role of meiofauna in soft-bottom ecosystems. Finally, this will allow determining what are gains or loss of ecosystem functions provided by meiofauna when sediment grain size is changing.
Seagrass bed in Marennes-Oleron


Collaborations :

  • Local collaboration: Denis Fichet, Associate professor, University of La Rochelle, LIENSs UMR 7266, France
  • National collaboration: Jadwiga Rzeznik-Orignac, Associate professor, University of Pierre and Marie Curie, LECOB UMR 8222, Banyuls-sur-Mer, France
  • National collaboration: Nathalie Niquil, Research director, French National Centre of Scientific Research, BOREA UMR 7208, Caen, France
  • International collaboration: Ragnhild Asmus, Researcher, Alfred Wegener Institute – Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research – Wadden Sea Station Sylt, Germany
    Publications :
  • van der Heijden, L. H., and Kamenos, N. A.: Reviews and syntheses: Calculating the global contribution of coralline algae to total carbon burial, Biogeosciences, 12, 6429-6441, doi:10.5194/bg-12-6429-2015, 2015.