19/01/2022 | Professor Marcelo Soares, associate professor from Federal University of Ceará (Brazil), was recently awarded a fellowship for experienced researchers from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH) to spend one year at the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT) starting in January 2022. In collaboration with Dr. Sonia Bejarano, head of the Reef Systems working group, he will study the structure, dynamics and functioning of marginal reefs, as well as their role as potential refugia in times of rapid climate change.

Marginal reefs can be defined as marine communities developed over hard-bottom that survive under marginal, extreme or suboptimal conditions. These environmental conditions include, among others, elevated sedimentation rates, turbid waters, mesophotic depths (~30–150 m), high nutrient content, extreme pH fluctuations, increased primary productivity (mesotrophic or eutrophic waters), and/or highly variable temperatures. Understanding how fully-developed and marginal reefs function now and how they will function in the future is a key goal of the Reef Systems research group.

Therefore, the project of Professor Soares is well aligned with the research agenda of ZMT and will allow us to expand our knowledge on tropical reefs. The coupling of the regional expertise and datasets collected by Professor Soares in the past years and the expertise of Dr. Bejarano in functional trait-based approaches to study ecosystem function, will yield valuable knowledge on the largest, but least understood marginal reef ecosystems of the world.

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Professor Marcelo Soares during a field survey in Brazil | Photo: LABOMAR/FCPC/SEMA (2020)


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Field survey in Brazil | Foto: LABOMAR/FCPC/SEMA (2020)

In his research, the Brazilian scientist will focus on quantifying the composition, structure, and health status of marginal reef communities (South Atlantic Ocean), as well as on evaluating their resistance to environmental change, and their potential to act as climate-change refugia. "I am very happy to be at ZMT! My main goal is to elaborate and submit new collaborative research projects between Brazil and ZMT (Germany) in the context of the Belém Declaration, Horizon Europe (2030), JPI Oceans and other possibilities," says Soares.

About Professor Marcelo Soares

Marcelo Soares completed his doctorate at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil) (2010). He conducted postdoctoral research at the Universitat Autònoma di Barcelona (Spain) between 2015-2016. Moreover, he was visiting Professor in Università del Salento (Lecce, Italy) (2020) and University of Cape Verde (Africa) (2019). Marcelo Soares is an associate professor at the Institute of Marine Sciences (LABOMAR) of the Federal University of Ceará (UFC) since 2010. He has served as coordinator of the postgraduate program (Msc. and PhD.) in Tropical Marine Sciences (UFC) and is the leader of a research group in Brazil on tropical ecosystems including coral reef and mangrove conservation. During his PhD, postdoctoral fellowships and career as permanent professor, he has undertaken research in the Africa, the Mediterranean Sea, Caribbean Sea, and South America. Through the Humboldt Research Fellowships the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation sponsors researchers with above-average qualifications from across the globe. Fellows also benefit from individual support from the Humboldt Foundation and its diverse sponsorship portfolio.