EU network of mesocosms facilities for research on marine and freshwater ecosystems open for global collaboration.

Project Information

AQUACOSM: the EU-network connecting freshwater and marine large experimental research infrastructures

Rivers, lakes, estuaries and the open ocean are connected and it’s becoming evident that ecosystem processes act on many scales, including global. Despite this, aquatic research is still divided in marine and freshwater sciences, with separate funding sources, and experimental science is often conducted at single sites without international coordination. To challenge these problems, the FvB-IGB-lead project AQUACOSM is funded by the first international call (EU H2020-INFRAIA) to coordinate research, develop common best practices and open both freshwater and marine large-scale research infrastructures (mesocosms) for international cross-discipline participation.

Why is AQUACOSM needed?

By experimentally enclosing large volumes (1-1000 m3) of natural water, in so-called mesocosms, we can measure the separate effects of multiple stressors on whole ecosystems over weeks to years. This is presently the most realistic method to test how future climate and pollution may impact aquatic ecosystems, and thereby to compare with predictions from long-time data series and models. All these approaches are then combined to get the understanding necessary to mange our future water effectively. However, as the effects of different stressors may vary widely among ecosystems and seasons etc., they need to be investigated in comparable mesocosm experiments in different areas and with best possible methods. As these challenges have not been solved, the AQUACOSM project will fill a global void by forging an integrated freshwater and marine research infrastructure network.

How was AQUACOSM developed and what will it do?

AQUACOSM builds on the marine EU project MESOAQUA (2009-2012). Both networks are lead by Dr. Jens Nejstgaard, with Dr. Stella Berger coordinating the Transnational Access to the facilities. While MESOAQUA involved 6 marine partners, AQUACOSM greatly enhances this network. It is expanded with 2 small enterprises, 10 freshwater (rivers and lakes), 2 brackish and 2 benthic marine facilities, and involves 21 partners and over 50 scientists throughout Europe. It will offer much more Transnational Access, i.e. days to visit the mesocosm facilities. In total AQUACOSM will open for more than 340 worldwide users making up more than 11500 days. AQUACOSM will also integrate scattered know-how between freshwater and marine research infrastructures by uniting aquatic mesocosm science in an open international network, by involving enterprises in ambitious innovation processes to promote groundbreaking developments in mesocosm technology, instrumentation and data processing. Finally, a new dimension of experimental ecosystem science will be reached by coordinated mesocosm experiments along transects from the Mediterranean to the Arctic and across salinity boundaries and multiple environmental gradients.

“When we developed the marine MESOAQUA network, I wished that the “separated twins” marine and freshwater sciences would work closer together for a better understanding of our future global waters. Now as a “pan-aquatic” ecologist at IGB, I am therefore very excited to help this merge together with all the AQUACOSM colleagues! In Bergen, Norway I learned how Wilhelm Bjerknes already in the early 1900’s managed to initiate the unification of the world meteorologists to an excellent collaboration on empirical measurements and models, rather than just individual and competitive achievements. It is needless to point out what important function and precision the globally organized weather forecasting has in today’s society. I believe it’s high time this happens also in aquatic ecology, and beyond.” says Dr. Jens Nejstgaard.

Project: EU H2020-INFRAIA-project No 731065 “AQUACOSM: Network of Leading European AQUAtic MesoCOSM Facilities Connecting Mountains to Oceans from the Arctic to the Mediterranean”

Duration: 01/2017-12/2020

Funded by: European Commission, Directorate-General for Research & Innovation, Budget 9,999,807 €

Direction: Dr. Jens Nejstgaard (Project leader), nejstgaard@igb-berlin.de, Dr. Stella Berger (Transnational Access leader), berger@igb-berlin.

The project includes the following partners:

Aarhus University

AREFSENS Electronics Inc.

Blue Lobster IT Ltd

Centro de Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos – Universidade de Évora

CNRS – MARine Biodiversity, Exploitation and Conservation

Ecole Normale Supérieure 

Finnish Environment Institute, Marine Research Centre 

Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V. – Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei 

GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel

Hellenic Centre for Marine Research

Imperial College of Science Technology and Medicine

Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität

Middle East Technical University

Netherlands Institute of Ecology

Norwegian Institute for Water Research

Umeå Marine Science Center

Umweltbundesamt

Uni Research AS

University of Bergen

University of Helsinki, Tvärminne Zoological Station

WasserCluster Lunz-Biologische Station GmbH