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

Task 3.1

Task 3.1 Workshops on best practices and optimization of mesocosm approaches
Task 3.2 Training
Task 3.3 Site documentation
Task 3.4 Perspectives beyond the project

Workshops on best practices and optimization of mesocosm approaches

Lead: GEOMAR

Mesocosm-based approaches are considered as the most comprehensive tool to experimentally test wholeecosystem responses to stressors under present and future conditions. Despite their wide application, there is presently a lack of guidance on best practices in their applications. This has partly resulted from the fact that mesocosm approaches have developed in parallel for freshwater and marine environments. Common standards and an agreement on best practices is therefore urgently needed to improve the comparability of results across facilities and environments. To capitalize the full potential of this research tool, it is also critical to engage scientific disciplines not commonly involved in mesocosm experimentation at present. Broadening the scientific perspective and harmonizing the methodological approaches will be key to better exploit mesocosm results, and to make full use of new technologies, inc. autonomous measurements. To this end WP3 will bring together leading experts from the wider mesocosm research community and beyond during 2 three-day workshops with the aim of

  1. Identifying the strengths and weaknesses of existing facilities and approaches spanning the full range from river, lake, brackish and marine environments, concerning indoor and outdoor, pelagic, littoral and benthic facilities.
  2. Discussing and agreeing on best practices in mesocosm applications, including experimental design, replication, randomization, core parameters to be measured, statistical data treatment and analysis, data reporting and archiving.
  3. Broadening the research scope and disciplinary spectrum of mesocosm experimentation; including expansion towards multifactorial approaches, evolutionary adaptation, export mechanisms, relevance of high frequency measurements and air-sea gas exchange.

Workshop 1 will focus on goals 1 & 2 and engage the broader mesocosm community with representatives from all environments, AQUACOSM mesocosm facilities and selected international experts. Workshop 2 will continue and complete goal 2 and further expand the scientific scope by addressing goal 3. This workshop will comprise a broad spectrum of expertise including numerical modelers, aquatic chemists, ecophysiologists, ecologists, evolutionary biologists, biogeochemists, statisticians, as well as experts on sensor development. For both workshops, special effort will be taken to include representatives from stakeholders and end users outside the project consortium. The ambition of the two interrelated workshop is to reinforce a network of leading experts, produce recommendations/checklists for existing mesocosm approaches and infrastructures, develop guidelines on best practices for mesocosm experimentation, and prepare a roadmap towards future mesocosm technologies (D2.5) serving the needs of tomorrow’s research communities.