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

Do you need a low-cost, low-weight, and easily-transportable mesocosm platform?

In AQUACOSM-plus, we develop one…

Many systems for mooring mesocosms are very rigid, immobile and/or usually very expensive. This limits the capacity to investigate ecological and socio-economical impacts on various aquatic systems on regional to international scales, especially if mesocosm infrastructures are not available at these sites. Hence, it is important to develop a flexible and cost-effective system for mobile use in different locations, in a way to allow testing a wide range of ecological hypotheses under a variety of conditions. Such a mobile platform system should be of low weight, inexpensive, easy to assemble, flexible, small in pack size and stable.

Figure 1: Different types of mesocosms: Pelagic (right) benthic-pelagic (left) © Maria Stockenreiter

In AQUACOSM-plus, we develop a low-cost, low-weight, and easily-transportable version of a mesocosm platform, which will allow effective installation in freshwaters over Europe-wide geographical and environmental gradients. The new platform system allows using mesocosms with various diameters and of two different types.

One type of mesocosms, the “pelagic” ones, will enclose the pelagic water: the conical bottom of the bag will be heat-sealed and include a suspension attachment for weights (Fig. 1).

The other type of mesocosms, the “benthic-pelagic” ones, consists of the same materials but also encloses the sediment so that a benthic-pelagic exchange can be possible (Fig. 1).

The raft system, although already successfully tested (see Fig. 2), will be further developed so that sensor systems can be easily attached while at the same time regular sampling and access with different sampling equipment are also possible. This further extends the flexibility of the platform system and its potential use for testing broad ecological questions.

For further information, please check out our AQUACOSM-plus YouTube channel and the video: how to construct low-cost mesocosms.

Figure 2: Test of the low-weight mesocosm platform construction ©Maria Stockenreiter