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A Belgian scientific network was created in 2001 with financial support of the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office, previously known as the 'Federal Office for Scientific, Technical and Cultural Affairs' (OSTC). Five different partners (IRSNB/KBIN, KMMA/MRAC, UA, ULB, VUB) will work together on the four-year CALMARS project (CALcareous MARine Skeletons as recorders of global climate changes). CALMARS II was recently funded and will run from 2005 - 2009.

The CALMARs project is presented in the February 2005 issue of Science Connection in Dutch and French (~5MB each)

The objective of the CALMARS research network is to extend the environmental records from oceanic origin by validating the archive function of skeletons (shell) from selected marine invertebrates. Potential recorders have been selected among three taxa, sclerosponges, bivalves, and echinoderms, for their contrasted characteristics: lifetime, growth rate, and biomineralization features. Areas of interest spread from the North Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean, and the Mediterranean Sea.

CALMARS focuses on the following specific objectives:

  • determine the correlations between proxies (trace elements, stable isotopes...) in the carbonate skeletons and environmental conditions measured in the field such as sea surface temperature (SST), salinity or bio-availability, for the different taxa;
  • measure and model the impact of variable proxies concentrations and environmental conditions (SST, salinity, nutrients etc.) on the element composition in tissue and carbonate skeleton in controlled experimental setups;
  • investigate physiological conditions that affect proxy concentrations and variations in the skeleton;
  • based on the former results, develop transfer functions (corrected for physiological effects) relating the proxy to the environmental variable(s);
  • reconstruct at high resolution (day to seasonal depending on taxa) environmental conditions based on a comparison between specimens of a same species from contrasted geographical regions and from different periods (historical time scale, from museum collections);
  • compare the results with those obtained from other calcareous skeletons, such as corals, and valiadate the use of these proxies for paleoenvironmental reconstructions

(see the detailed project page for more info, or for the non-scientists see: What we do)

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Web www.vub.ac.be
created september 16, 2001
by David P. Gillikin
last update 03 May 2008
by Rémy Mas
http://www.vub.ac.be/calmar/index.htm