Anticipated Results

The results are expected not only to have an important application e.g. in environmental policy to prevent irreversible changes in coastal marine ecosystems, but also to provide important information and global concern about specific aspects of the problem. Some of these aspects are the succession of microbial communities in the eutrophication gradient (column) and hypoxia (sediment) and their match with the patterns of the respective phyto-, zooplankton and benthic macrofaunal communities. Also very important results are expected from the study of the variability in the complex of Capitellaspp in relation to environmental variability in the benthic habitat. The species of this complex are expected to have developed special adaptations to be able to respond to extreme environmental conditions in which they live (pollution, hypoxia). Changes in gene level that provide increased adaptability of species to their environment will be the subject of this part of the study. This is an exciting subject with international interest which connects the ecology of an organism with its genes.

Benefits from the implementation of the project.

HYPOXIA project will address an environmental issue which is of significant interest to the society, particularly in the context of coastal zone management and the regulation of the various uses of the marine environment. The results will be used in the SHoCMed project of the EU/GFCM and the «WG on Site selection and Carrying Capacity” of the GFCM/CAQ) both addressing the issue of aquaculture regulation in the coastal zone. A series of important papers in the prime scientific literature are expected ranging from microbial communities to seagrasses comprising both field studies and large experiments. The results and the experimental facilities will be also used for the training of undergraduate students of the Biology Department, the visiting ERASMUS students and the postgraduate students of the MSc Programme in “Environmental Biology” organized by the UoC Biology Department, the HCMR and the Natural History Museum in Crete. Although no direct financial benefits are expected, the societal, scientific and educational benefits are significant. Furthermore, it is anticipated that the project will allow the establishment of a group of excellence on this issue which will be able to collaborate with other complementary groups in joint EU projects.