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

Mesocosm facilities for research on marine and freshwater ecosystems

Jens Nejstgaard (project coordinator) explains the importance of mesocosm facilities and why the AQUACOSM project and its facilities are unique.

Mesocosms are used to conduct well-replicated large-scale experiments to investigate how entire ecosystems react to different stressors. AQUACOSM is unique in combining such marine and freshwater facilities operating in rivers, lakes, estuaries and the ocean from the Arctic to the Mediterranean. AQUACOSM has more than 37 mesocosm facilities, 21 partners in 12 countries. The network contains the only open ocean facility in the world (KOSMOS at GEOMAR in Kiel, DE), the largest highly replicated freshwater mesocosms (IGB-LakeLab in Lake Stechlin, DE), the longest running freshwater mesocosm experiment (at Aarhus Univ., Silkeborg, DK), and the world’s oldest still running marine mesocosm facility (Espegrend, Univ. of Bergen, NO). Espegrend have offered “Transnational Access (TA)” to international experiments since its start in 1978, long before it was called so. AQUACOSM is the first specialised mesocosm network on all aquatic environments and builds on the successful marine FP7 MESOAQUA network. By the end of 2020, AQUACOSM will have offered more than 10 500 TA user days. The open access to these facilities, therefore, provides a unique opportunity to study local ecosystems and compare how other aquatic environments react to various stressors in the entire European area.

The facilities enable scientists to forecast how each ecosystem may respond to specific stressors and address some of the “big questions” such as what effect will warming have on European aquatic environments.

Jens sees collaboration and integration between the AQUACOSM infrastructures and other infrastructure networks and as key to global ecosystem management stating that “International collaboration with other leading infrastructure networks is critical when planning for better global ecosystem functioning in the future. In AQUACOSM we wish to embed aquatic mesocosm facilities directly in areas of long-time studies (LTER) and when possible directly combine them with other, e.g. terrestrial and atmospheric large-scale experimental and monitoring facilities- to make up so called SUPER SITES. We have started a pioneering collaboration with the international networks iLTER network and AnaEE to make this happen”.

The video was taken as part of the ENVRIplus meeting ( in Malaga 6-10 Nov 2017, where Stella Berger and Jens Nejstgaard represented AQUACOSM in the BEERI (

AQUACOSM will form part of the forthcoming EGU meeting