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Marine & Estuarine Ecology Laboratory (MEEL)

Overview:

The ecology of larval dispersal, recruitment and connectivity is analysed in the laboratory, using high-frequency sampling of larval supply, genetic and geochemical markers and biophysical numerical models, in order to assess the spatial scale of metapopulational units in the marine environment. Regarding deep-sea ecosystems, we are interested in the analysis of the distribution and diversity of organisms and habitats in relation to natural drivers and human impacts, as well as in the biological capacity of key species and their potential to support ecosystem functioning. The laboratory investigates the biology and ecology of cetaceans in the Iberian Peninsula and elsewhere, including studies on diet, growth, reproduction, distribution, abundance, and the impacts of anthropogenic stressors such as PCB bioaccumulation and fishery bycatch. Small-scale fisheries are also a topic of interest in the laboratory. We contribute to social and economic research on SSF, including studies of the attitudes of fishers to management measures governance arrangements and legislation, and to research supporting sustainable exploitation of some SSF target species, notably cephalopods. Important work is also conducted on habitat mapping and ecological modelling, including mapping of estuarine and coastal shelf benthic habitats and biodiversity value, food web ecology and biogeochemical cycles. These research topics, as well as research on large scale patterns of genetic and species diversity, are used as scientific bases for the management of ecologically coherent networks of marine protected areas and for the conservation of priority species.

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