Research Interests


Picture_Nils_VolkenbornI am broadly interested in the functioning of the seafloor, specifically in the relation between key benthic species and sediment biogeochemistry. The largest part of our planet is covered by marine sediments and the uppermost layer is inhabited by diverse organisms that constantly rework and irrigate the sediment. By doing so these animals have a profound impact on the sediment properties, the biogeochemical rates and the exchange processes between the seafloor and the overlying water.

I use experimental approaches ranging from large-scale field manipulations (e.g., key species exclusion or transplantation) to laboratory studies on the scale of individual organisms and geochemical measurements on the micro-scale (“antfarms”, mesocosms) in concert with sensor technologies and imaging techniques that allow capturing the heterogeneous and dynamic nature of bioturbated sediments at various spatial and temporal scales. At the same time I am interested in the response of benthic organisms to environmental stress (e.g., hypoxia) and to what extent such changes affect the performance of key benthic species and ultimately ecosystem function.

“The Sound of the Seafloor” was streamed at the Beneath the Waves Festival in Portland, Maine.