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

Task 3.2

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

Training

Lead: IMPERIAL

The use of mesocosm experiments together with modelling/theoretical exercises is an excellent way to enhance our understanding about the base of the food web and to improve the understanding of general ecological principles. Training courses for PhD students and young scientists will communicate methods and approaches in contemporary mesocosm research. Participants will learn how to design and maintain experiments, collect and analyse material, and evaluate and explain results. The course will take place in the facilities of Partner 19 and consist of three phases: (1) Theoretical preparation (1-2 days), (2) Hands-on experience (7-9 days) and (3) Evaluation of the experiment performed through by the participants under guidance of experts in the field (1-3 days).

After an introduction to the general design of mesocosm experiments (1), the participants themselves will interactively decide on a short-term experiment they will prepare and perform (2) and evaluate the results utilizing appropriate statistical, modeling and theoretical considerations (3). When the data are analysed and evaluated, the students will present the results to each other. A student will be nominated from attendees and lecturers, and paid by AQUACOSM, to present an overview of the summer school in the final symposium of the project.

The training activities will be conducted in the 96 pond mesocosm facility at Silwood Park. These are part of a new large global warming research programme connected to other European sites pan-Iberian study led by PI Miguel Araujo (CIBIO-UE, WP6). Dr Miguel Matias (CIBIO-UE/IMPERIAL) is based at Silwood and is involved in both of these large-scale projects. Silwood Park also offers world-leading lab and teaching facilities, and has a long history of running internationally renowned pedagogical courses. Experienced researchers will supervise the design, performance, analyses and evaluation. Potential topics for the experiment will be related to contemporary critical subjects on global change (e.g. darkening of the ocean, increased DOC from land to aquatic environments (one of the themes also addressed in WP9), increased temperature, altered nutrient loads or food web structure). The specific topic of the Summer School will be decided during the first annual meeting of AQUACOSM. The School attendees will evaluate the quality of knowledge disseminated during the summer school as well as the skills they have acquired. The evaluation will be used for future recommendations in training activities.