Meet the team

Dr Kerstin Kröger

SERPENT Research Scientist
SERPENT Project Management Office
Room 496/02
Ocean Biogeochemistry and Ecosystems
National Oceanography Centre
European Way
SO14 3ZH - UK
Tel: +44 (0) 2380 59 63 63
Fax: +44 (0) 2380 59 62 47

Personal page


Deep-sea ecology, disturbance ecology, biodiversity research, polychaetes as an indicator group, Antarctic polychaete distribution

Research Interests

I am especially interested in understanding the distribution patterns of the deep sea benthic fauna and the main factors, e.g., disturbances, driving such patterns. Disturbances change and structure biological communities and thereby influence species diversity. Within the SERPENT project I study the effects of disturbances in the form of activities related to hydrocarbon exploration on the benthos of the deep sea. Using ROV technology we can assess the direct effect of such activities on the bigger mobile fauna on the sediment surface and also on the smaller infauna using ROV-operated push-cores and grabs to take samples. Repeat-visits to the same site (where possible) allow us to better understand the recovery trajectories of such communities. I am also interested in the effects of such disturbances on biodiversity and functional patterns – do disturbed communities recover to pre-disturbance levels or will we observe a long-term shift in biodiversity and also functional patterns?

Current Research

My main research focus is in benthic ecology (benthos: the organism living at the bottom of an ocean or other body of water) and which environmental factors are particularly important for driving the community distribution patterns we observe.
Disturbances, both natural (e.g., iceberg ploughing) and anthropogenic (e.g., hydrocarbon exploration activities), are part of the many factors influencing benthic mega- and macro-fauna communities and thus biodiversity. I am especially interested in polychaetes, marine bristle worms, most of which are infaunal, and which are one of the most important and ubiquitous groups found in the benthos. Within the SERPENT project, I will look at how disturbances associated with hydrocarbon exploration affect different taxonomic groups, whether such responses are similar or group-specific. Are there differences in the recovery trajectories of the taxonomic groups? In particular I am interested whether polychaetes are a suitable indicator group to assess the immediate effects of and the recovery from such disturbances.
My work involves using remote operated vehicles (ROVs) and different sampling gear to take sediment core samples with the animals contained therein.


Benthic Ecology and Use of Underwater Images

My research has taken me from North Atlantic rocky shore communities to the deep-sea mega- and macrofaunal communities of the South Pacific and the Ross Sea (Antarctica) where I worked on biodiversity surveys and effects of natural disturbances. Whereas my main focus is on macrofaunal research I am also interested in assessing megafaunal communities using different gear types and different (mainly towed) camera systems. The development of suitable analysis techniques for biodiversity research and habitat mapping projects is another interest of mine. Conducting underwater video transects is one of the major methods for habitat mapping because it allows for continuous data coverage, a prerequisite for habitat mapping. Identifying the fauna from such videos is a challenging task because many of the anatomical characters used in traditional taxonomic keys for species identification can not be seen on UW images. Thus identifications from UW images reflect often ‘morphological species’, but not necessarily taxonomical species. Working with ROVs gives us the unique opportunity to also take a physical sample of the particular specimen recorded on the image. Having the specimen along with the image is especially important for the identification of deep sea species where the likelihood of discovering a species new to science is high.
One of my interests is to ensure the standardisation of identification from images across different projects working in the same areas. This includes the development of both standardised sampling protocols and collaborating with taxonomists to develop identification keys for the purpose of identifying from UW images.


Other Details

I am a deep-sea researcher in the DEEPSEAS group at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton. Before I moved to the UK I was based at the Institute of Marine Research in Tromsø (Norway) where I worked on the MAREANO project, Norway’s national marine habitat mapping programme. Prior to Norway I spent ten years in New Zealand where I conducted my PhD on the long-term effects of a toxic plankton bloom and an experimentally induced disturbance on the infauna of Wellington Harbour. This work led to employment with the National Institute of Water and Atmosphere Research (NIWA) in Wellington where I focussed on the influence of iceberg scouring on invertebrate communities on the Ross Sea shelf, was involved in seamount work (CenSeam), research into methane seeps along the Hikurangi Margin (New Zealand’s East coast) and general biodiversity surveys in New Zealand’s extensive waters reaching from the Subtropics to the Antarctic.



Peer reviewed

Thurber AR, Kröger K, Neira C, Wiklund H & LA Levin (2010). Stable isotope signatures and methane use by New Zealand cold seep benthos. Marine Geology 272:260-269.

Mortensen P, Buhl-Mortensen L, Dolan M, Dannheim, J & K Kröger (2009). Megafaunal diversity associated with marine landscapes of northern Norway: a preliminary assessment. Norwegian Journal of Geology 89: 163-171.

Kröger K & Rowden AA (2008). Polychaete assemblages of the northwestern Ross Sea shelf: worming out the environmental drivers of Antarctic benthic assemblage composition (2008). Polar Ecology 31: 971-989.

Kröger K, Gardner JPA, Rowden AA & RG Wear (2006). Recovery of a soft-sediment macroinvertebrate assemblage following experimentally induced effects of a harmful algal bloom. Marine Ecology Progress Series 326: 85-98.

Kröger K, Gardner JPA, Rowden AA & RG Wear (2006). Long-term effects of a toxic algal bloom in subtidal soft-sediment macroinvertebrate communities in Wellington Harbour, New Zealand. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 67: 589-604.

De Domenico F, Chiantore M, Buongiovanni S, Ferranti MP, Ghione S, Thrush S, Cummings V, Hewitt J, Kroeger K & R Cattaneo-Vietti (2006). Latitude versus local effects on echinoderm assemblages along the Victoria Land coast, Ross Sea, Antarctica. Antarctic Science 18(4): 655-662.

Gage JD, Lamont PA, Kroeger K, Paterson GLJ & JLG Vecino (2000). Patterns in deep sea macrobenthos at the continental margin: standing crop, diversity and faunal change on the continental slope off Scotland. Hydrobiologia 440: 261-271.

Wahl M, Kröger K & M Lenz (1998). Non-toxic protection against epibiosis. Biofouling 12(1-3): 205-226.

Non-peer reviewed

Gates, A.R., Jones, D.O.B., Benfield, M., Roterman, C.N., Kröger, K. (2011) SERPENT Cruise Reports 2008-2010. National Oceanography Centre Cruise Report No. 02. 509pp.

Buhl-Mortensen L, Buhl-Mortensen P, Holte B, Dannheim J, Kröger K, Dolan M & K Picard (2010). Dyreliv på havbunnen – Tromsøflaket og Eggakanten. In: Buhl-Mortensen L, Hodnesdal H, Thorsnes T (eds.): Til bunns i Barentshavet og havområdene utenfor Lofoten - ny kunnskap fra MAREANO for økosystembasert forvaltning, Norges geologiske undersøkelse, 36-41.

Buhl-Mortensen P, Buhl-Mortensen L, Holte B, Dannheim J& K Kröger (2010). Dyreliv på havbunnen – Sokkelen untenfor Lofoten-Vesterålen-Troms. In: Buhl-Mortensen L, Hodnesdal H, Thorsnes T (eds.): Til bunns i Barentshavet og havområdene utenfor Lofoten - ny kunnskap fra MAREANO for økosystembasert forvaltning, Norges geologiske undersøkelse, 54-60.

Kröger K & Bowden D (2008). Bubbles on the Hikurangi Margin: the New Zealand Cold Vents project. Water & Atmosphere 16(1): 10-11.

Rowden AA, Kröger K & MR Clark (2008). Biodiversity of deepwater invertebrates and fish communities in the northwestern Ross Sea. Final Research Report for the New Zealand Ministry of Fisheries Research Project ZBD200303.

Kröger K (2006). The worms that came out of the cold. Water & Atmosphere 14(4): 7.

Gage JD, Lamont PA, Kroeger K & R Harvey (2000). Desktop study of Tranches 19-22, Section 2.2, 17th Round Seafloor Environmental Survey, pp 45 + figures and tables. CD ROM Report published by the Atlantic Frontier Environmental Network (AFEN).

Jones KJ, Gage JD, Shimmield GB, Gordon JDM, Cromey C, Roberts M, Lamont P, Harvey R, Vecino JLG, Kroeger K, Shimmield T, Breuer E, Foster J, Harvey M, I Ezzi I, McGarr P, Swan S, Black KD & J Watson (1998). Environmental Assessment on behalf of Enterprise Oil Ltd. in 17th Round Licence Block 154/1 (58° 50'-59° 00'N, 07° 48'-08° 00'W). Client report for Enterprise Oil plc

Contact Kerstin Kröger