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


TA: Provision of transnational access to all AQUACOSM-plus facilities 

  Work package leader: FVB-IGB
Contacts:  Stella Berger
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AQUACOSM-plus WP9 builds on the experience gained from FP7 MESOAQUA and H2020 AQUACOSM to offer wider, simplified and more efficient Transnational Access (TA) to the leading mesocosm research infrastructures in Europe. We will increase the total number of TA to >13,000 person-days by significantly widening the network and scope of services offered through TA in concert with improved cost efficiencies in the TA activities (see Section1). The strategic extension of AQUACOSM-plus partners, (from 21 to ≥30 as defined on page 1) and number of open mesocosm facilities (from 37 to >60), extends access to cover a broader biogeographic range across Europe (Fig.3.3). AQUACOSM-plus will include new partners, such as a recently established facility in Hungary (WP9.2) and network-within-networks, e.g. the IBERIAN PONDS (WP9.x) and the 5 SITES AquaNET facilities (WP9.12), the latter serving as a national test-bed of coordinated activities for future integration of the entire AQUACOSM-plus-community and other RIs in Europe and worldwide. This will facilitate co-designed European, and to some extent even global experiments through voluntary associated partnership (Fig.1.1.a,b), combined with open data interpretation and publication, and boost the global extension of coordinated activities by including strategic partners from the virtual network. We aim to foster a new generation of direct global cross-disciplinary collaboration, which will be guided by a strategic suite of activities in WP3, 4, 5, 6, 8 and 9.

TA will be offered to a wider community by broadening the outreach (WP5): 1) though actively including the global network; 2) though enhancing the possibilities for participation in practical and conceptual planning processes at WP6 summits; 3) through open access to the “Project Tracker” (WP5.2); 4) through networking via AQUACOSM-plus’ industry-targeted Innovation Forum (ACIF, WP1 and 2). AQUACOSM-plus emphasises TA user needs by 1) offering pre- and post-training to new users to maximise the transfer of knowledge gained during the last years-decades to the next generation fostering capacity building during TA activities (WP3), 2) enhancing TA by further improving infrastructure management and service provision by means of optimised, harmonised and coordinated access procedures in cooperation with WP8 and WP4.4 to promote near real-time data streams, use and reuse of data through a Virtual Access pilot at the TA activities. Specifically, AQUACOSM-plus will offer a new “JRA-TA-partnership programme” (WP8.5). Duplication of effort will be minimised and resource use efficiency increased by designing internationally harmonised experiments targeting the most pertinent Global Grand Challenges (WP6). To further ensure effective open data flow for both JRA and TA activities WP 9 will largely benefit from new developments in WP4, such as quantitative KPIs tailored to TA activities, primary data collection, data visualisation, a metadata catalogue, and an open database. Overall, AQUACOSM-plus will offer a much more integrated TA activity expected to yield a number of new advanced services and thus stronger impact, compared with previous projects.

Lead: FVB-IGB, Co-Lead: UIB, UU; Contributions: All partners

WP9 will be led by Partner 1, FVB-IGB (Berger), assisted by Partner 6, UIB (Tsagaraki), Partner 15, UU (Langenheder), Partner 1, FVB-IGB (Makower), and the Project Coordinator at FVB-IGB (Nejstgaard) with contributions from all partners. Standardised procedures for TA will be followed across all partner facilities. General information on core elements of WP9 shared among all infrastructures is given here. They relate to Outreach to New Users, Review Procedures, Modality of Access, and Support and Services offered. Detailed descriptions and specificities applicable to the individual partner infrastructures are described in Tasks 9.1 to 9.28. The TA application process and administrative procedures before and during TA activities will be coordinated in WP1 and WP8.4 for all mesocosm infrastructures in AQUACOSM-plus. Each facility will manage all other aspects of its own TA activities, for which the facility providers are responsible.

Outreach to new users under AQUACOSM-plus: TA opportunities will be offered to a wider community by broadening the outreach (WP5) to attract a wide range of users, in particular three distinct, but not mutually exclusive groups of users:

  • Researchers or developers from SMEs and other industries keen on developing or testing instruments or interested in other applications
  • Researchers from countries that lack state-of-the-art freshwater, brackish or marine mesocosm facilities
  • Researchers not previously involved in experimental investigations using aquatic mesocosm facilities

In addition to the global network, the project aims to reach new users and stakeholders through open access to the “Project Tracker” in WP5.2. The project tracker, will be supported by WP6’s expert summits to tackle Grant Challenges and develop attractive experimental (co-)designs to be simultaneously applied in several facilities. Outreach to new users outside the scientific community, i.e. developers from SMEs and other industries will be improved via the AQUACOSM-plus’ industry-targeted Innovation Forum (ACIF, WP1 and 2). Generally, information about opportunities for TA will be widely disseminated via diverse channels and outlets in WP5, including various social media, scientific and industrial networks, and professional meetings. The AQUACOSM-plus website will serve as a central hub to announce, disseminate and run TA calls for designated experiments and open projects and will host the TA applications by an effective online form. To mitigate potential unbalanced TA-demand among partner facilities, the yearly main call for TA opportunities will be complemented by a second more flexible call launched after the main call, dedicated to providing access to students and early career scientists to planned experiments at partner facilities with TA availability.

Review procedure under AQUACOSM-plus: TA proposals must be electronically submitted using the online portal (WP5.2) and undergo a standardised review-process compliant with EU- regulations. Users will be selected based on the principles of transparency, fairness and impartiality:

  • Incoming TA applications are collected and registered by the AQUACOSM-plus Project Office (WP1) and checked for formal compliance according to the present European Commission Requirements.
  • The Project Office then forwards all formally correct applications to the independent User Selection Panel (USP), which is composed of seven distinguished aquatic scientists with international expertise on all aquatic systems and eco-regions addressed in WP9 (see 3.2.4).
  • The USP evaluates, prioritises and ranks applications for TA according to a set of transparent criteria (see Application Assessment). Most important are scientific merit and attributes of prospective users as defined above. The evaluation process will be accessible online through the TA portal and results will be available to dedicated persons. The USP will convene in person once a year (more often if necessary) to finalise open applications and attend to USP connected business.
  • The WP9 task leaders (WP9.1-9.28), i.e. facility providers will then comment on the feasibility of the TA applications and proposed activities at the specific sites based on the available expertise, collaboration potential and schedules at the respective facility and report back to the TA Project Office.
  • After consensus between facility providers and TA Office, the facility providers will inform the TA applicants, provide grant letters (CC to TA office) and start organising the planned activity.
  • In case of difficulties, final decisions are taken by the USP after consultation with the Steering Committee (SC) and respective WP9 task leaders.

Overall results of approval (or rejection) of TA application will be archived by the Project Office and publicly communicated via the outreach pathways of WP5 (TA portal).

<strong)Modality of access under AQUACOSM-plus: Individual users or user groups (henceforth ‘users’) will be given access to the AQUACOSM-plus partner infrastructures, equipment and services according to a standardised protocol (see below). The unit of access offered by all facilities is person-days, although details of access vary among infrastructures, depending on location, typical duration of experiments, required number of person-days, capacities of local staff, integration of AQUACOSM-plus activities into established schedules, degree of user independence and other factors. Unless noted otherwise in the description of Tasks 9.1-9.28, costs are calculated as unit costs in € per user-day according to the methodology laid out by the Commission. Costs incurred during experiments are included, which comprises costs for preparatory work needed before and after the arrival of users at the site, and specific training on-site required to complete a project. An overview of all partner facilities access costs and the total of access provided is summarised in Table 3.2c, whereas travel and subsistence costs are listed in Table 3.4.b.

Support and Services offered under AQUACOSM-plus: The logistic support and scientific services offered to users supported by the Transnational Access programme are described individually for each of the mesocosm facilities (Task 9.1-9.28). Generally, logistic support includes travel costs (roundtrip to facility), accommodation at the site, per-diem (or provision of all meals) as well as technical and administrative support. The scientific services and environment in which users will be embedded varies among locations, but scientifically strong, active and open-minded research groups associated with AQUACOSM-plus facilities typically ensure a stimulating and rewarding research experience during TA activities.

Detailed descriptions and specificities applicable to the individual partner infrastructures are described in Tasks 9.1 to 9.28, below.


D9.1 Delivery of report on quantity (person-days) and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of Transnational

Access delivered at all partner facilities (Tasks 9.1-9.28) for M10-21 (M23)

D9.2 Delivery of report on quantity (person-days) and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of Transnational Access delivered at all partner facilities (Tasks 9.1-9.28) for M22-45 (Month 47).

Mesocosm NameShort NameMesocosm Country
Artificial Stream and Pond System (FSA) Artificial Stream and Pond System (FSA)
AU Lake Mesocosm Warming Experiment (LMWE) AU Lake Mesocosm Warming Experiment (LMWE)
Cambridge Environmental Assessments (CEA) CEA
CEH Aquatic Mesocosm Facility (CAMF) CAMF
Estación de Ciencias Mariñas de Toralla (ECIMAT) ECIMAT-M
ExStream System Ireland ExStream System Ireland
Iberian Pond Network (IPN) Iberian Pond Network (IPN)
IGB LakeLab IGB LakeLab
KOB (Kiel-Outdoor-Benthocosms) KOB (Kiel-Outdoor-Benthocosms)
KOSMOS (Kiel Off-Shore Mesocosms for Ocean Simulations) KOSMOS (Kiel Off-Shore Mesocosms for Ocean Simulations)
LIFE Infrastructure - ECP Facility (Behavioural Ecology of Fish, St Pée/Lapitxuri) ECP
LIFE Infrastructure - PEARL facility (Experimental Aquatic Platform, Rennes/Le Rheu) PEARL
Limnotron Limnotrons
LMU Mesocosms LMU Mesocosms
Lunz Mesocosm Infrastructure (LMI) Lunz Mesocosm Infrastructure (LMI)
MEDIMEER (MEDIterranean platform for Marine Ecosystem Experimental Research) MEDIMEER (MEDIterranean platform for Marine Ecosystem Experimental Research)
Mesocosm Facility at Umeå Marine Sciences Center (MF-UMSC) Mesocosm Facility at Umeå Marine Sciences Center (MF-UMSC)
METU Mesocosm System METU Mesocosm System I and METU Mesocosm System II
National Experimental Platform in Aquatic Ecology (PLANAQUA) National Experimental Platform in Aquatic Ecology (PLANAQUA)
NORCE Marine Research Center in Mekjarvik (NORCE-MRC) NORCE-MRC
Planktotrons - Indoor Mesocosm Facility Planktotrons
Solbergstrand Experimental Facility (SEF) Solbergstrand Experimental Facility (SEF)
SYKE-MRC (Marine Research Centre) Mesocosm Facility SYKE-MRC (Marine Research Centre) Mesocosm Facility
Tvärminne Mesocosm Facility (TMF) Tvärminne Mesocosm Facility (TMF)
UiB Mesocosm Centre (University of Bergen Mesocosm Centre) UiB Mesocosm Centre (University of Bergen Mesocosm Centre)