Response of pelagic food webs to warmer, acidified oceans (Pelagic foods) (38923)

  • Dutz, Jörg (Project Participant)
  • Koski, Marja (Project Participant)

Project Details


Atmospheric CO2 is projected to double by 2100, resulting in increased global temperature, ocean acidification (OA) and changes in the balance of marine ecosystems. A general lack of multifactorial studies means very limited knowledge on the combined effects of these pressures on ecosystem structure and function. Preliminary mono-factorial data indicate important but little studied appendicularians (pan-global pelagic urochordates) may be strongly impacted, directly and indirectly via altered phytoplankton growth and chemical composition. Effects on other key plankton such as copepods may depend on phytoplankton size. Appendicularians repetitively secrete and discard filter-feeding houses. Discarded houses with trapped particles make a significant contribution to global vertical carbon flux.

We will study combined effects of temperature and CO2 on these dominant zooplankton by manipulating natural plankton in mesocosms. We hypothesize climate change will impact the important zooplanktonic trophic level through top down altered predation fields and bottom up changes in prey type and size. Copepods are size-selective feeders and recent data suggest appendicularians are bottom up regulated by large and spiny particles.

We will test these hypotheses in mesocosms by generating blooms of diatoms (large) or flagellates (small) and evaluate subsequent zooplankton population dynamics. Under these different conditions, we will also examine competitive predatory interactions between copepods and appendicularians, leading to models of projected effects of p(CO2) and temperature on appendicularians and copepods through alterations in phytoplankton community structure and uni-directional predatory pressure. Both appendicularians and copepods are important in oceanic carbon sequestration, but do so via different pathways. Data from these experiments should also have important predictive value on the nature and extent of future carbon sequestration in marine pelagic communities.

The project is coordinated by University of Bergen, Norway.

Research area: Oceanography
Effective start/end date01/01/201131/12/2011