The Sediment Ecology Research Group (SERG), known popularly as “The Mud Lab” of the Scottish Oceans Institute, University of St Andrews specialises in the investigation of the ecology of aquatic systems, with emphasis on marine and estuarine coasts, shallow marine systems and salt marshes. These depositional systems are of international importance with regard to their ecology and for the ecosystem services that they provide. They are, however, often under significant industrial and demographic pressure and are continually responding to natural and anthropogenic changes. A major issue is the impact of global climate change on these sensitive systems. The SERG group has been working on these systems in The Netherlands, Portugal, Italy, France, USA, Australia and the UK.
In summary, SERG studies many aspects of the relationship between the organisms (biodiversity) and their environment. This includes aspects of eco-physiology (primary production, carbon flux, and nutrient turnover), ecology (biodiversity-functionality relationships, microphytobenthos and macrofaunal diversity) and particle dynamics (stability and erosion of sediments) of aquatic systems. This includes aspects of ecosystem engineering (bioturbation, biofilm development and surface stabilisation) and the theory of niche construction. More recently we have also been working on the links between biodiversity, ecosystem function, ecosystem service and valuation-policy-management approaches.
The group uses advanced techniques including low-temperature scanning electron microscopy, PAM Fluorescence, in situ microcosm and mesocosms studies and flume systems. We have often developed new equipment (e.g CSM system and MagPi) to examine the biological mediation of sediment systems and some of these methods are now commercially available (CSM via ParTrac Ltd).
This work of SERG is of international importance to help improve management and legislative practises and understand the ecosystems service that they provide.
SERG has received European and national funding and co-operates with many international groups as well as UK universities and institutes.
Sediment Ecology Research Group
Scottish Oceans Institute
Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 3472
Fax: +44 (0)1334 46 3443
Secretary: Jane Williamson
Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 3441