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Nils Volkenborn

Associate Professor


Doctor of Science2005

- University of Bremen, Germany

Research Topics:

Sediment biogeochemistry, animal-sediment interactions, benthic ecology

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  • Bio/Research


    I 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.

    If you want to learn more about my research please visit the  Volkenborn Lab Website

  • Publications


    Volkenborn N., Woodin S.A, Wethey D.S., Polerecky L. (2016) Bioirrigation in marine sediments. Reference Module in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences. DOI: 10.1016/B978-0-12-409548-9. 09525-7

    Woodin S.A.,   Volkenborn N., Pilditch C. A., Lohrer A.M.,  Wethey D.S., Hewitt J.E., Thrush S.F. (2016) Same pattern, different mechanism: Locking onto the role of key species in seafloor ecosystem process. Scientific Reports 6: 26678. DOI: 10.1038/srep26678

    Chapperon C.,   Volkenborn N., Clavier J., Séité S., Seabra R., Lima F.P. (2016) Exposure to solar radiation drives organismal vulnerability to climate: Evidence from an intertidal limpet. Journal of Thermal Biology 57: 92-100. DOI: 10.1016/j.jtherbio.2016.03.002

    Pascal L., Maire O.,   Volkenborn N., Lecroart P., Bichon S., de Montaudouin X., Grémare A., Deflandre B. (2016) Influence of the mud shrimp Upogebia pusilla (Decapoda: Gebiidea) on solute and porewater exchanges in an intertidal seagrass (Zostera noltei) meadow of Arcachon Bay: An experimental assessment. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 477: 69-79. DOI: 10.1016/j.jembe.2016.01.008

    Chennu A.,   Volkenborn N., de Beer D., Wethey D.S., Woodin S.A., Polerecky L. (2015) Effects of bioadvection by Arenicola marina on microphytobenthos in permeable sediments. PLoS One. 10(7):e0134236. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0134236

    Chennu A., Färber P.,   Volkenborn N., Al-Najjar M., Janssen F, de Beer D., Polerecky. L. (2013) Hyperspectral imaging of the microscale distribution and dynamics of microphytobenthos in intertidal sediments. Limnol Oceanogr: Methods 11: 511-528. DOI: 10.4319/lom.2013.11.511

    Wegner K.M.,   Volkenborn N., Peter H., Eiler A. (2013) Heat-shock induced decoupling between host genetics and composition of the associated microbiome. BMC Microbiol 13: 252. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2180-13-252

    Volkenborn N., Meile C., Polerecky L., Wethey D.S., Woodin S.A., Pilditch C., Norkko A., Norkko J., Hewitt J.E., Thrush S.F. (2012) Intermittent bioirrigation and oxygen dynamics in permeable sediments: An experimental and modeling study of three tellinid bivalves. J Mar Res 70: 794-823. DOI: 10.1357/002224012806770955

    Engel M., Behnke A., Klier, J., Buschbaum C.,   Volkenborn, N., Stoeck T. (2012) Effects of bioturbating lugworms ( Arenicola marina) on the structure of benthic protistan communities. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 471: 87-99. DOI: 10.3354/meps10008

    Volkenborn N., Polerecky L., Wethey D.S., DeWitt T.H., Woodin S.A (2012) Hydraulic activities by ghost shrimp   Neotrypaea californiensis  induce oxic-anoxic oscillations in sediments. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 455: 141-156. DOI: 10.3354/meps09645

    Engel M., Behnke A., Bauerfeld S., Bauer C., Buschbaum C.,   Volkenborn, N., Stoeck T. (2011) Sample pooling obscures diversity patterns in intertidal ciliate community composition and structure. FEMS Microbiol Ecol 79: 741-750. DOI: 10.1111/j.1574-6941.2011.01255.x.

    Matsui G.Y.,   Volkenborn N., Polerecky L., Henne U., Wethey D.S., Lovell C.R., Woodin S.A. (2011) Mechanical imitation of bidirectional bioadvection in aquatic sediments. Limnol Oceanogr: Methods 9: 84-96. DOI: 10.4319/lom.2011.9.84

    Woodin S.A., Wethey D.S.,   Volkenborn N.  (2010) Infaunal hydraulic ecosystem engineers: cast of characters and impacts. Integr Comp Biol 50: 176-187. DOI: 10.1093/icb/icq031

    Volkenborn N., Polerecky L., Wethey D.S., Woodin S.A. (2010) Oscillatory porewater bioadvection in marine sediments induced by hydraulic activities of   Arenicola marina   . Limnol Oceanogr 55: 1231-1247. DOI: 10.4319/lo.2010.55.3.1231a

    Kuhnert J., Veit-Köhler G., Büntzow M.,   Volkenborn N.  (2010) Sediment-mediated effects of lugworms on intertidal meiofauna. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 387: 36-43. DOI: 10.1016/j.jembe.2010.03.001

    Lei Y., Stumm K.,   Volkenborn N., Wickham S., Berninger U. (2010) Impact of   Arenicola marina   (Polychaeta) on the microbial assemblages and meiobenthos in a marine intertidal flat. Mari Biol 157: 1271-1282. DOI: 10.1007/s00227-010-1407-7

    Volkenborn N., Robertson D., Reise K. (2009) Sediment destabilizing and stabilizing bio-engineers on tidal flats: Cascading effects of experimental exclusion. Helgol Mar Res 63: 27-35. DOI: 10.1007/s10152-008-0140-9

    O’Brien A.L.,   Volkenborn N., van Beusekom J.E.E., Morris L., Keough M.J. (2009) Nutrient enrichment in soft sediment habitats and the role of bioturbating macroinvertebrates. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 371: 51-59. DOI: 10.1016/j.jembe.2009.01.004

    Wethey D.S., Woodin S.A.,   Volkenborn N., Reise K. (2008) Pore-water advection by hydraulic activities of lugworms,   Arenicola marina: A field, laboratory and modeling study. J Mar Res 66: 255-273. DOI: 10.1357/002224008785837121

    Kochmann J., Buschbaum C.,   Volkenborn N., Reise K. (2008) Shift from native mussels to alien oysters: differential effects of ecosystem engineers. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 364: 1-10. DOI: 10.1016/j.jembe.2008.05.015

    Volkenborn N., Polerecky L., Hedtkamp S.I.C., van Beusekom J.E.E., De Beer D. (2007) Bioturbation and bioirrigation extend the open exchange regions in permeable sediments. Limnol Oceanogr 52: 1898-1909. DOI: 10.4319/lo.2007.52.5.1898

    Volkenborn N., Hedtkamp S.I.C., van Beusekom J.E.E., Reise K. (2007) Effects of bioturbation and bioirrigation by lugworms ( Arenicola marina) on physical and chemical sediment properties and implications for intertidal habitat succession. Est Coast Shelf Sci 74: 331-343. DOI: 10.1016/j.ecss.2007.05.001

    Volkenborn N., Reise K. (2007) Effects of   Arenicola marina  on polychaete functional diversity revealed by large-scale experimental lugworm exclusion. J Sea Res 75: 78-88. DOI: 10.1016/j.seares.2006.08.002

    Polerecky L.,   Volkenborn N., Stief P. (2006) High temporal resolution oxygen imaging in bioirrigated sediments. Environ Sci Technol 40: 5763-5769. DOI: 10.1021/es060494l

    Volkenborn N., Reise K. (2006) Lugworm exclusion experiment: responses by deposit feeding worms to biogenic habitat transformations. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 330: 169-179. DOI: 10.1016/j.jembe.2005.12.025

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