Oradora: Helena Adão (University of Évora, Biology Department, CIEMAR / CO- Institute of Oceanography, Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon)
Benthic nematodes are widely regarded as ideal organisms to study the potential ecological effects of natural and anthropogenic impacts and to assess and evaluate ecological integrity of the aquatic ecosystems. The ecological and practical advantages associated with using nematodes in benthic biological studies are good reasons to utilize them as an indicator group in the assessment of sediment “quality”. Recent investigations have highlighted the importance of the link between nematode diversity and the ecosystem functioning. Furthermore, if environmental scientists had to draft a group of organisms that would specifically serve to monitor and measure biodiversity and the impact of stressors, then the blueprint for those organisms would certainly closely match the characteristics of the nematodes.
Helena Adão’s research is focused on the ecological functioning of the meiobenthos, particularly of benthic marine nematode assemblages of intertidal, subtidal, seagrass beds and deep sea sediments. Particular effort was put on the assessment of the benthic conditions and the natural recovery and resilience of the nematode assemblages as well as the determination of the responses to natural and anthropogenic disturbances and stressors through the examination of their spatial and temporal patterns. More recently the use of stable isotopes analysis was introduced in her studies of the ecosystem functioning.