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Kristina Sundbäck

Professor emerita

Kristina Sundbäck
Professor emerita

Department of Marine Sciences (More Information)
Box 461
405 30 Göteborg
Visiting Address: Carl Skottsbergs gata 22 B , 413 19 Göteborg

About Kristina Sundbäck

Benthic ecology, microbenthos, microbial ecology, multiple stressors
My research deals with the benthic ecology of shallow-water, illuminated sediments, particularly the role of microbenthic communities (microalgae, bacteria and microscopic fauna) in the carbon and nutrient cycling. The response and recovery of these shallow-water ecosystems when exposed to anthropogenic impacts, such as changed nutrient load, raised temperature due to climate change, physical disturbance, and toxicants, alone or in combination, are assessed.

Current projects

Nutrient COCktails in COAstal zones of the Baltic Sea (COCOA)
The BONUS project COCOA is a multidisciplinary project aiming at studying the role of the coastal zone as a ”filter” between land and sea. Nutrients are transformed and removed in a complex mosaic of processes by microbial communities, plants and animals with environmental conditions modulating the process rates.Together with professor Stefan Hulth (Dept of Chemistry and molecular Biology), we lead a work package that studies specifically the role of plants in the coastal filter and their influence on the biogeochemical processes at the sediment–water interface. Dr. Karl Norling and Dr. Christian Alsterberg are co-workers (Dept of Biological and Environmental Sciences). Different types of coastal areas are considered (river-dominated estuaries, lagoons, embayments and archipelagos) along the Baltic coast and the results will be used to improve the process description in current coastal models. In COCOA, 14 institutes from 8 countries are participating and the project is co-ordinated by the University of Århus in Denmark. Consequences of a potential loss of coastal nutrient retention will affect nutrient reduction targets in the Baltic Sea Action Plan required to establish HELCOM´s ecological objectives.

Response of shallow-water illuminated sediments to single and multiple stressors, including global change
Within this project, funded by FORMAS, we have focused on the sensitivity of shallow-water sediments to local, regional and global environmental changes. The emphasis is on the role of microbially mediated key ecological functions and characters (primary production, trophic status, mineralization, nutrient cycling, nitrogen retention and removal, as well as the biodiversity of the benthic communities). In this experimental work, natural intact sediments are manipulated in flow-through mesocosms, under natural variation of light and temperature. Stressors include changed nutrient load, toxicants, hypoxia increased sedimentation, warming and acidification. I appears that benthic microalgae play an important role in the recovery of the sediment system after temporary disturbance events, thereby contributing to the resilience of the shallow-water sediment system and a general buffering against environmental changes. This function appears to be related to the resistance of benthic diatoms to e.g. hypoxia and anoxia, and to their rapid re-oxygenation of the sediment surface. Funding is manily from FORMAS and research has been done in collaboration with Department of Chemistry at GU, and NERI in Denmark

Role of shallow-water sediments as sinks and sources of nitrogen in the coastal zone
Shallow-water illuminated sediments constitute an important functional part of the "coastal filter" where nutrients are transformed, retained and removed by processes mainly driven by autotrophic and heterotrophic microorganisms. The trophic state of the sediment (balance between oxygen production and consumption) largely decides whether the sediment functions as a sink or source of nitrogen. Focus is on the biogeochemistry and microbially mediated processes of the sediment system and their response to environmental changes, such and warming in combination with regional stressors. The role of dissolved organic nitrogen (DON) in the N-turnover and as a nitrogen source for benthic microalgae has also been studied. Dissolved free amino acids can constitute an important N source for benthic microalgae when the availability of dissolved inorganic nitrogen is limited. In co-operation with the County administration of Västra Götaland, management issues related to shallow coastal bays are approached. In a recent study, the balance between nitrogen fixation of N2 by benthic microbial mats (mainly cyanobacteria) and nitrogen removal by denitrification is studied to better understand the effect of managing nutrient loads to shallow bays.

Current collaborations:

Professor Stefan Hulth GU
Dr Christian Alsterberg GU

Professor Sara Hallin SLU

Lars Gamfeldt GU

Latest publications

Nitrogen fixation in shallow-water sediments: Spatial distribution and controlling factors
Björn Andersson, Kristina Sundbäck, Hellman Maria, Hallin Sara, Christian Alsterberg
Limnology and Oceanography, Journal article 2014
Journal article

Estarine Benthic Algae
Karen McGlathery, Kristina Sundbäck, Peggy Fong
Estuarine Ecology, Hoboken, New Jersy, Wiley-Blackwell, Chapter in book 2012
Chapter in book

Response of a shallow-water sediment system to warming
Christian Alsterberg, Stefan Hulth, Kristina Sundbäck
Limnology and Oceanography, Journal article 2011
Journal article

Showing 11 - 20 of 46


Dissolved organic nitrogen: an important source of nitrogen for the microphytobenthos in sandy sediment
Kristina Sundbäck, E. Lindehoff, E. Graneli
Aquatic Microbial Ecology, Journal article 2011
Journal article



Anammox and denitrification along a depth-gradient in the Gullmar Fjord, western Sweden
Stefan Hulth, Ola Bäckman, T Dalsgaard, Kristina Sundbäck
Gordon Research Conf. on Chemical Oceanography, New Hampshire, USA, Conference paper 2009
Conference paper

Effects of increased temperature on a shallow-water sediment system: a spring situation
Kristina Sundbäck, Christian Alsterberg, Stefan Hulth
The 4th European Conference on Coastal Lagoon Research, Research and Management for the Conservation of Coastal Lagoon Ecosystems, South - North comparisons, Conference paper 2009
Conference paper


Lagoons and shallow bays as filters in the coastal ecosystem
Kristina Sundbäck, K. J. McGlathery, I. C. Anderson, Ieee
2008 Ieee/Oes Us/Eu-Baltic International Symposium, Journal article 2008
Journal article

Showing 11 - 20 of 46

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