Ecosystem changes

Knowledge about what consequences global climate changes are having on the ecosystem is limited. In many cases it is impossible to say when and if a change is going to occur. Through combining ecological and chemical knowledge with mathematical modelling, this strong research environment is aiming to increase the understanding of how the ecosystem is responding to climate changes.

How the ecosystem reacts to climate changes is a result of a complex interplay between external drivers and internal mediators. External drivers such as a warmer climate can, among other things, lead to an increase in the transport of organic carbon and nutrients from land to lakes. Researchers within this strong research environment have shown that increased levels of organic carbon limits the penetration of light in lakes. This in turn leads to a lower production of benthic algae, and also of fish. Internal mediators include the ecosystem’s structure with respect to occurring organisms that through their activities affect each other and the flow of elements such as nitrogen and phosphorous.

Explains the collapse of cod stocks

Since ecosystems are complex it is not easy to understand and predict the effects of climate changes through experimental studies but instead mathematical models are needed as well. The models are used as supplementary tools to increase the understanding of, and predict how and in what ways, certain given changes in the environment affect an ecosystem.
Examples of this are the mathematical models that have been able to explain why the stocks of predator fish such as trout and cod are collapsing and how this can be avoided. These studies also show how important it is to take into consideration the large variation in size that exists between individuals of the same species.

The researchers are also studying more long-term evolutionary changes. They reconstruct for example, earlier ecological communities with the help of remains in lake sediment and through analyzing patterns in kinship between species.

Articles and Press Releases

Light determines access to fish in lakesElevated atmospheric nitrogen affects aquatic ecosystem in alpine lakes How do environmental changes affect lakes?Search more Articles and Press Releases

About Strong Research Environments 2011–2015

In 2010 Umeå University designated 14 strong research environments of high international quality, which was given special support during the period 2011–2015. This initiative will be evaluated shortly.

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