Elsa B. Girard

Elsa, credit to Bram Bertollini

I am part of the 4D-REEF research consortium studying the past, present and future of turbid coral reef ecosystems. My research focuses on temporal dynamics in large benthic foraminifera (LBF) assemblages from the Spermonde Archipelago (Indonesia). I will dive into long and short term shifts as well as rapid seasonal changes in LBF communities, using an integrative approach combining sediment samples, cores, remote sensing, DNA metabarcoding and traditional microscopy methods. 


Large benthic foraminifera, temporal dynamics, turbid coral reef, Spermonde Archipelago

Elsa B. Girard

"It is all about the ocean
and its inhabitants..."

Early Stage Researcher 
4D-REEF program
Marine biodiversity


Spermonde Archipelago

-4.9463945156647, 119.26496309996


Ever since I can remember my love for the ocean has been growing. Thanks to the 4D-REEF program, I have the opportunity to better understand LBF shifts in turbid reefs through time.

During my studies, I had the opportunity to conduct fieldwork in the Maldives and Indonesia; two journeys that opened my eyes to coral reef ecosystems. After studying the incorporation of foreign particles by marine sponges, I am keen to dive into the beautiful world of large benthic foraminifera. My research will contribute to our understanding of factors driving community changes over three different time scales. Results from my study will resolve a part of the puzzle that 4D-REEF aims to complete regarding turbid reef evolution in the Coral Triangle. 

Coral Reef


My research focuses on:

  • Quantifying temporal shifts in LBF assemblage composition 
  • Linking molecular and morphological methods for LBF community analysis
  • Assessing the impact of river discharges on LBF assemblages
  • LBF as a bioindicator to foresee reef degradation
shingle rampart lumulumu

4D-REEF Research Programme

Coral reefs are having a hard time. Reefs in the Coral Triangle stand out for their species richness, yet they are in close proximity to areas with high human population densities. Ongoing anthropogenic environmental changes in the sea, on land and in the…
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Ecology of large benthic foraminifera

Benthic foraminifera are widely seen as good environmental indicator. When conditions change, so will the LBF species occurring on a site. Because of their short generation times, LBF assemblages, with a generation time of 0.5-2 years) will change faster…
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Coral reef murky water

(Paleo)ecology of turbid reef ecosystems

When you see coral reefs appearing in nature documentaries, these are usually situated in high visibility, clear water conditions. This is also where the paradigm that coral reefs in nutrient poor conditions originates. However, coral reef ecosystems occur…
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Sponge survey at the Spermonde archipelago, SW Sulawesi, Indonesia.

Impact of urbanisation on coral reef ecosystems

Here we assess the historical impact of human settlement on coral reef environments adjacent to two major conurbations in southeast Asia, namely Jakarta and Makassar. This will be the first study to assess on a large spatial scale how the historical…
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Girard EB, Langerak A, Jompa J, Wangensteen OS, Macher JN, Renema W (2022). Mitochondrial Cytochrome Oxidase Subunit 1: A Promising Molecular Marker for Species Identification in Foraminifera. Front Mar Sci. 9. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2022.809659

Macher JN, Wideman JG, Girard EB, Langerak A, Duijm E, Jompa J, Sadekov A, Vos R, Wissels R, Renema W (2021) First report of mitochondrial COI in foraminifera and implications for DNA barcoding. Sci Rep. 11, 1–9. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-01589-5

Girard EB, Estradivari, Ferse S, Ambo-Rappe R, Jompa J, Renema W (2021) Dynamics of large benthic foraminiferal assemblages: A tool to foreshadow reef degradation? Sci Total Environ. 151396.  doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.151396

Girard EB, Fuchs A, Kaliwoda M, Lasut M, Ploetz E, Schmahl WW, Wörheide G. (2020) Sponges as Bioindicators for Microparticulate Pollutants?. Environ Pol. 268 (Pt A): 115851. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2020.115851

Girard EB, Kaliwoda M, Schmahl WW, Wörheide G, Orsi WD (2020) Biodegradation of textile waste by marine bacterial communities enhanced by light. Environ Microbiol Rep. doi: 10.1111/1758‐2229.12856