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

WP9

Lasting Science Integration

  Work package leader:  LMU
Contact:  Herwig Stibor
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Task 9.1 Transfer knowledge about key environmental challenges (WP2), best practices harmonization (WP3) and site specific environmental traits (WP6) into transnational joint research activities
Task 9.2 Performing joint experiments on key scientific questions along major environmental and bio-geographical gradients

Objectives

WP9 focuses on joint research strategies to: a) demonstrate and valorise the surplus value of the AQUACOSM consortium, in experimentally tackling key scientific questions regarding present and future environmental changes, and b) ensure consolidation and continuation of the network and joint research activities beyond the duration of the AQUACOSM-project. To accomplish this, WP9 will conceptualise and implement a first international scientific coordination of ecosystem-scale experimental studies across all water types from marine to freshwater (Task 9.2). The success of this task specifically, as well as all AQUACOSM activity in general, will be evaluated (Task 9.1) and the results will be explored as a basis for future sustainable and expanded collaborations between aquatic mesocosm infrastructures in AQUACOSM and beyond. We will invite all facilities to join a virtual international network on the mesocosm.eu portal and advertising it on the aquacosm.eu project website (Task 5.1 and 5.2). The activity under Task 9.2 will also be used to allow wider collaboration with other directly related areas such as coastal and terrestrial experimental and observational platforms as developed in the different European RI consortia (e.g. AnaEE, ICOS, JERICO-NEXT, DANUBIUS, and future new RI-projects). To facilitate such a collaboration we have invited representatives other networks to the AQUACOSM Scientific Advisory board (SA described under section 3.2.6).

WP9 (Task 9.1) will implement knowledge and strategies developed within the AQUACOSM project. We will utilize and integrate results on key environmental challenges from WP2, transfer of technology and best practices from WP3, and be the first to employ key methodological improvements from WP7 and WP8, while conducting joint Pilot-transnational experimental investigations of key research questions across sites selected to represent the width of the consortium (Task 9.2). This Pilot-research activity will take advantage of the large variety of environments and species pools at the different experimental sites, from freshwater to marine systems, and from the Arctic to Mediterranean.

A challenge in mosocosm studies is that the responses of ecosystems to changing environments depend strongly on local biotic dynamics, determined by local species pools and biodiversity and me lead to idiosyncratic responses preventing generalisations. Coordination among facilities doing comparable studies are therefore needed. We postulate that this is one of the most limiting factors for the development of ecosystem-scale empirical science to understand and mitigate the effect of anthropogenic stressors on our future environment. One of the major outcomes of WP9 is therefore expected to be a concept for a sustainable international network ensuring continuous development of international best practice approach allowing direct between-system comparisons, based on directly comparable experimental and analytical approaches. Notably, our current understanding of aquatic ecology draws much knowledge from experiments that were performed at few sites in the vicinity of important laboratories.

The research strategy demonstration in WP9 will focus on extending important site-specific investigations of key environmental challenges to analyses of “local environment x environmental stressor” interactions on the European scale. This will ensure mechanistic insights into key ecological challenges that would not be possible to extract from single site-specific experimental studies or observational time-series. We will thereby further increase the value of experimental manipulations at specific sites by embedding them within an overarching Joint Research Activity. We will develop and conduct a practical pilot test of best strategies to study key environmental questions in the context of major environmental gradients (salinity, climate) across Europe, in order to obtain robust predictions how global change will affect aquatic ecosystems and surface water quality across Europe. Such an understanding is essential to judge susceptibility of aquatic ecosystems and to foresee remediation measures to be taken in the future.

Deliverables

D9.1 Data base environment x stressor interactions (M12)

D9.2 Strategy for experiments along salinity and latitude gradients (M18)

D9.3 Pilot Salinity, demonstration of successfully performing experiments along a salinity gradient (M36)

D9.4 Report practical experience from experiments along a salinity gradient (M42)

D9.5 Pilot Latitude, demonstration of successfully performing experiments along a latitudinal gradient from Arctic to Mediterranean (M46)

D9.6 Strategy for continuing JRA beyond M48, concept paper (M48)