Tidal benthic mesocosms simulating future climate change scenarios in the field of marine ecology

Increasing human activities cause local to global changes in sea surface temperatures, ocean acidity, eutrophication, and rising sea levels. Many laboratory experiments investigate the effects of these regime shifts on single species and single stressors, showing variable responses within and among species, while different combinations of stressors can have synergistic, additive or antagonistic effects. Large-scale multi-species and multi-stressor experiments can more reliably predict future ecosystem changes. A unique mesocosm facility was developed and set up at the AWI Wadden Sea Station – Sylt, Northern Germany to investigate the particular effects of future climate changes on predominant marine intertidal communities. Each of 12 benthic mesocosms serves as an independent experimental unit with novel techniques of tide and current simulations as well as multi parameter measurement systems to simulate multi-factorial climate change scenarios including the combination of warming, acidification, nutrient enrichment, and sea level rise. Temperature, pH, oxygen, and salinity can be continuously monitored and logged, while discretely collected samples of total alkalinity, light availability, chlorophyll a (Chl a), nutrients and seston supplement these online datasets. Herein we demonstrate the functionality of the new benthic mesocosm system including first experimental results on the responses of Fucus vesiculosus forma mytili, and its associated community to the combination of warming, ocean acidification, and increased nutrient enrichment.

Pansch A., Winde V., Asmus R. & Asmus H. in press. Tidal benthic mesocosms simulating future climate change scenarios in the field of marine ecology. Limnology and Oceanography: Methods. Article (subscription required).


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