The northern basins of the Baltic Sea are relatively shallow systems, implying that coastal processes can be of great significance to this area. It is likely that benthic primary production is an important part of the basal production in coastal ecosystems, because of high nutrient concentrations in the sediments and available sunlight. Coastal habitats are also important recruitment areas for most fish species. However, colored organic matter, which is transported into the marine system via rivers, can potentially shift the basal production from benthic and autotrophic to pelagic and heterotrophic. Thus, colored organic matter is likely a key factor influencing the ecosystem function in the northern Baltic Sea. In this project we are studying benthic and pelagic primary production and bacterial production in northern Baltic Sea coastal zones with varying input of colored organic matter. Furthermore, we are aiming at quantifying the importance of the different production modes to the production of higher trophic levels, e.g. fish.
The project is part of the strategic research program ECOCHANGE, which has the aim to elucidate how climate change will affect the ecosystems dynamics in the Baltic Sea, including fish production and accumulation of organic pollutants in different organisms.