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Webinar 1: The Ecological Role of Benthic Organisms
Presented by Dr. Nils Volkenborn - June 12, 2012

Marine sediments make up a huge available habitat for organisms, yet we rarely think about these places because we often assume that they are devoid of life. In the first webinar of a three-part series, Dr. Nils Volkenborn opens a window into the complex and interesting ecological landscape of marine sediments. Using techniques that can allow scientists to "see" under the mud, Dr. Volkenborn shares information about how worms, bivalves and other benthic organisms modify their environments by bioturbation. Whether by digging burrows, oxygenating their burrows, eating, or performing other behaviors, these actions all change the sediments and contribute to a powerful ecosystem function. 

Webinar Archive

You can watch a video of the webinar below. Below the video is also a link to Dr. Volkenborn's interactive concept map so that you can follow along with the presentation.

Concept Map

The webinar features a map created by Dr. Volkenborn entitled, "How Do Burrowing Organisms Affect the Functioning of Benthic Ecosystems?". You can explore the concept map in the window below, or save it to your own CLIMB account.

Classrom Connections

During the presentation, Dr. Volkenborn showed several time-lapse videos that he had captured throughout his research. He also shared a set of instructions for setting up simple time-lapse setups in the classroom for students to initiate their own investigations of the behavior of benthic organisms.

About the Presenter

Nils Volkenborn 
Dr. Nils Volkenborn
University of South Carolina
Dr. Nils Volkenborn is currently a post-doctoral researcher in the NSF project, "Linking infaunal hydraulic activities, porewater flow and biogeochemical processes in marine sediments". He has also performed additional research on the impact of climate change on estuarine and intertidal ecosystems, and has contributed to research on diversity in coastal ecosystem at NEBROC (Netherlands Bremen Oceanography).