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Effects of browning of coastal waters on marine food web function and quality

Research project Climate-change scenarios indicate that both the temperature and precipitations will increase in northern Europe during the next century. This will cause increased inflow of terrestrial organic matter to coastal areas, which may reduce the phytoplankton primary production and promote heterotrophic bacterial production. It is unknown how such changes at the base of the food web affect higher trophic levels, e.g. zooplankton and fish.

Head of project

Project overview

Project period:

2020-01-01 2022-12-31

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Ecology and Environmental Science

Research area

Ecology, Marine science

External funding

Formas

Project description

Climate-change scenarios indicate that both the temperature and precipitations will increase in northern Europe during the next century. This will cause increased inflow of terrestrial organic matter to coastal areas, which may reduce the phytoplankton primary production and promote heterotrophic bacterial production. It is unknown how such changes at the base of the food web affect higher trophic levels, e.g. zooplankton and fish. We will perform studies in the Gulf of Bothnia (northern Baltic Sea), which is a semi-enclosed sea exposed to high river inflow. The variation in food web efficiency and fatty acid composition in the organisms will be studied in bays with and without freshwater inflow.

Monitoring data will be used to investigate if food web efficiency changed in the Gulf of Bothnia during a period with increased precipitation (1998-2001). This period resulted in huge inflow of terrestrial organic matter and caused a large scale decrease in primary production and a drastic decline of the benthic amphipod Monoporeia affinis population. In this project we will elucidate if planktivorous fish are also affected via changes in abundance and fatty acid composition of zooplankton. We expect that zooplankton abundance decreased and that their essential fatty acid content reduced during the period with increased precipitation. The project will generate a framework, which can be used to model future ecological effects of climate change in coastal areas in northern Europe.

External funding