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

Task 7.1

Task 7.1 Development of mobilized planktonic mesocosms

Task 7.2 Emerging automated, high-frequency imaging techniques for breakthroughs in aquatic food web research in mesocosms

Task 7.3 Applying GHG flux measurements to benthic/pelagic and pelagic mesocosms

Development of mobilized planktonic mesocosms

Partners: Lead LMU, co-lead CNRS-MARBEC, Contributors UH, SYKE, WCL, CNRS-CEREEP

Duration: Month 1-32

Task 7.1 aims to circumvent the bottleneck of local availability of extensive laboratory and human resources by developing a mobile, affordable, light-weight mesocosm platform (Sub-task 7.1.1), and building on the semi-automated sensor and data retrieval developments in AQUACOSM, to development and testing of affordable sensor packages (Sub-task 7.1.2).

Sub-task 7.1.1 Mobilized planktonic mesocosm platforms (Lead LMU, Contributors: CNRS-MARBEC, UH, SYKE, CNRS-CEREEP, UMU)

Mesocosm experiments have been major undertakings, most often based on construction and long-term maintenance of extensive local facilities to set up experiments, as well as on parallel local availability of extensive laboratory facilities and human resources for the measurement campaigns. This limits the capacity to investigate ecological and socio-economical impacts on various systems on regional to international scales. In AQUACOSM, development of standardized field mesocosm designs was initiated with the specific task of verifying an ice-tolerant construction. A low-cost, light-weight, and easily transportable version of a mesocosm platform would allow standardized experimental conditions to be effectively applied over Europe- wide geographical and environmental gradients. It would also enhance collaboration with observational environmental RIs by increased experiment co-location with their fixed observatories.

We will construct two mobile dismountable raft systems (12-20 m2), each supporting up to 12 mesocosms plus potential energy supply and sensor systems. Flexible construction of the rafts (from connectable reinforced plastic modules) allows using mesocosms with diameters between ~1 and 1.5 metres and depths ranging from 2 to 16 metres. Mesocosms will be constructed from 200 μm thickness LDPE tubes, the conical bottom will be heat-sealed and include a suspension attachment for weights up to 10 kg.

Sub-task 7.1.2 Affordable sensor packages (Lead CNRS-MARBEC, Contributors: SYKE, WCL, AU)

We will explore the possibilities and constrains of low-cost sensor systems, similar to those used in Citizen Science projects. There are convincing examples of a successful integration of such sensor systems into large observational research programs. These sensor systems are used to monitor environmental parameters such as water temperature, conductivity, light levels, dissolved oxygen or chlorophyll a.

We will develop low-cost sensor systems by comparing their data with that of Lamp Sensor System as a more sophisticate sensor system, developed in AQUACOSM (WP8). The integration of semi-automatized low-cost sensors into low-cost mesocosm platforms will allow the collection of a few selected, but potentially important, data at high frequency monitoring at multiple sites, and at experimental sites where high-end infrastructure is not necessarily available yet.