In progress

15.01.21 → 15.04.25

Estimating Tipping points in habitability of ANtarctic benthic ecOsystems under future GlObal climate change scenarios

The West Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) is one of Earth’s fastest warming regions, with large variations in the sea ice season duration, extensive glacier retreat, ice shelf collapse, warming of waters and shifts in primary producer communities. These climate change-related cryospheric and oceanographic processes significantly affect marine ecosystems and their habitability for key-organisms. As of today, the response of marine organisms and ecosystem processes to such changes are not well known. Yet, as climatic changes intensify in polar regions, dramatic shifts in ecosystems structure and function may take place and will be difficult, if not impossible, to reverse. Insights on resilience, thresholds and tipping points for species, communities and ecosystems are therefore crucial to understand the ongoing large-scale changes. Thus, this project will focus on interactions between sea ice dynamics, food source changes, temperature rise and benthic ecology along the WAP in a context of rapid climate change, in order to develop a mechanistic framework to predict tipping points leading to regime shifts in WAP benthic ecosystems. To develop this framework, the project will integrate different ecological levels, from (1) individual metabolic responses, (2) constraints of environmental changes on species interactions (trophic ecology & space competition), (3) dynamics of the communities and their consequences for carbon fluxes and finally (4) responses upscaled to ecosystem levels.











    Project website


    BELSPO -BRAIN-be 2.0 framework


      ULB, UGent, ULiège, EMC2, Ocean Expeditions

      External members

      • Marine Biology Laboratory, Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB)
        • Bruno Danis
        • Camille Moreau
        • Léa Katz
        • Manon Bayat


      • Glaciology Laboratory, Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB)
        • François Fripiat
        • Axelle Brusselman*


      • Marine Biology Laboratory, Universiteit Gent (UGent)
        • Ann Vanreusel
        • Ulrike Braeckman
        • Francesca Pasotti
        • Emil De Borger
        • Marius Buydens


        • FOCUS Research Unit, Université de Liège (ULiège)
          • Gilles Lepoint
          • Bruno Delille
          • Loïc Michel
          • Axelle Brusselman*
          • Anthony Voisin
          • Martin Dogniez*


        • Environmental Measurements, Conservation & Consciousness consultancy (EMC2)
          • Henri Robert


        • Ocean Expeditions
          • Ben Wallis


        * joint PhDs