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

Task 6.1

Task 6.1 Symposium on Grand Challenges in Aquatic Mesocosm Research

Task 6.2 AquaSUMMIT writing retreats – Scientific high impact Outputs

Task 6.3 Synthesis and Meta-analyses workshop – providing the tools to generalize across mesocosm experiments

Symposium on Grand Challenges in Aquatic Mesocosm Research

Partners: Lead WCL, Co-lead GEOMAR, Participants METU, CSIC, HCMR, FVB-IGB, all partners

Duration: Month 1-7

A symposium on mesocosm-based aquatic research will be organized early in the project (M6). This Symposium will identify how grand challenges in aquatic ecology (see overview below) can best be addressed using mesocosm infrastructures, and will involve participants from all project partners. The agenda for the symposium will be prepared at the Kick-Off meeting in M1 April 2020, Hungary).

WP6.1 also aims at stimulating RI-RI collaboration of AQUACOSM-plus sites with other RIs. To this end, representatives from other RIs that are part of AQUACOSM-plus sites (e.g. JERICO, LTER, ICOS DANUBIUS, see Table 1.1), together with stakeholders, will be involved in WP6.1. Relevant future scenarios and emerging challenges will be discussed and research needs deduced. The symposium will be used to develop and design experimental actions tackling grand challenges, both through TA provided by existing facilities (WP 9 & WP8.4) as well as through co-developed pilot experimental actions by newly established as well as existing AQUACOSM-plus facilities (WP 8.1-8.3). This includes employing mobile mesocosm infrastructures developed in WP7 at a DANUBIUS site in Romania (WP8.1). The output from the symposium will be disseminated to WP8 and WP9 by direct involvement of all AQUACOSM-plus facility providers in the symposium (see D8.5 in WP8). To disseminate the results of the symposium to the wider research community and TA users, a catalogue of research questions and strategy for experimental research will be made available online (; project tracker in WP5), that will specifically suggest themes for coordinated experiments among the facilities offering TA – this will feed into WP8.5 and WP9, as described there. By organizing targeted workshops at international meetings early in the project (Feb/Mar 2021; ASLO & EGU; organized in WP5) as well as by publishing two high profile opinion papers, we will further channelize the output and join forces for tackling grand challenges in aquatic ecology.

Overview of grand challenges to be addressed on the Symposium

Environmental threats

Impacts of Global-Change related pressures on ecosystem processes

  • Aridification, secondary Salinization (S-Europe); De-salinization (Baltic Sea)
  • Harmful algal blooms (both freshwater & coastal)
  • Atmospheric deposition

Aspects of ecosystem stability

Assessing the response of communities to disturbances in terms of stability & resilience

  • Multiple dimensions of stability
  • Non-linear responses and thresholds (tipping ponds; regime shifts)
  • Compensatory dynamics; Impacts of changing means and variance in environmental drivers

Nature-based solutions

Analyzing the remediation potential behind relevant mitigation measures, and also their possible side-effects

  • Alkalinisation (aka human-induced weathering) to compensate CO2 emissions
  • The bioremediation potential of biomanipulation in reservoirs in order to minimize greenhouse gas emissions
  • Bioremediation potential in marine sites to minimize the effects of major oil spills (PAHs)