I am a PhD in the Conservation Ecology Group of the University of Groningen, The Netherlands, and a conservationist in the Parc National du Banc d’Arguin, Mauritania. Being born a few years after the most severe drought and loss of biodiversity in the history of West Africa ignited in me the passion for conservation and the desire to understand how ecosystems function.

My fields of interest are intertidal ecology, trophic interactions, spatial patterns, ecosystem engineers, and ecosystem resilience. In my PhD, I am aiming to unravel the importance of the biota in the functioning of Banc d’Arguin intertidal flats and the effects of the environmental settings on the stability and resilience of the seagrass beds of the area.

By Tjeerd Bouma
Hacen at work at the Banc d’Arguin. Photo: Tjeerd Bouma

In the bigger picture, we are studying how hydrodynamic affects the stability of seagrass directly though the wave forces and indirectly by setting the background sediment and nutrient conditions. On an intermediate scale, we are interested in pinpointing the main abiotic conditions and topographical settings that drive the recovery of seagrass beds after die-off events. Also we are trying to quantify the effect of feeding activities of shorebirds on sediment biogeochemistry. On the small scale, we study how flamingos and crabs jointly garden their biofilm food through the creation and maintenance of a spatial irrigation system higher in the intertidal gradient.

By Han Olff
Hacen at work at the Banc d’Arguin. Photo: Han Olff

Profile photo: Maarten Snel.