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McQuatters-Gollop A.,Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences | Year: 2012

Unprecedented basin-scale ecological changes are occurring in our seas. As temperature and carbon dioxide concentrations increase, the extent of sea ice is decreasing, stratification and nutrient regimes are changing and pH is decreasing. These unparalleled changes present new challenges for managing our seas, as we are only just beginning to understand the ecological manifestations of these climate alterations. The Marine Strategy Framework Directive requires all European Member States to achieve good environmental status (GES) in their seas by 2020; this means management towards GES will take place against a background of climate-driven macroecological change. Each Member State must set environmental targets to achieve GES; however, in order to do so, an understanding of large-scale ecological change in the marine ecosystem is necessary. Much of our knowledge of macroecological change in the North Atlantic is a result of research using data gathered by the Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR) survey, a nearsurface plankton monitoring programme that has been sampling in the North Atlantic since 1931. CPR data indicate that North Atlantic and North Sea plankton dynamics are responding to both climate and human-induced changes, presenting challenges to the development of pelagic targets for achievement of GES in European Seas. Thus, the continuation of long-term ecological time series such as the CPR survey is crucial for informing and supporting the sustainable management of European seas through policy mechanisms. © 2012 The Royal Society.

Beaugrand G.,Lille University of Science and Technology | Beaugrand G.,Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science | Rombouts I.,Lille University of Science and Technology | Kirby R.R.,University of Plymouth
Global Ecology and Biogeography | Year: 2013

Aim: Latitudinal gradients in diversity intrigue scientists, and various hypotheses have been proposed to explain why the diversity of so many taxonomic groups increases from the poles to the equator. These hypotheses range from null models to environmental factors, and biotic interactions to those that include patterns of dispersal and speciation. Here, we formulate a new theory based upon the concept of the niche sensu Hutchinson and the principle of competitive exclusion, which shows that the latitudinal diversity gradient in the marine environment may result from an interaction between the thermal tolerances of species and climatic variability. Location: The global ocean. Methods: We design a bioclimatic model that creates pseudospecies from strict stenotherms to large eurytherms and subsequently allows them to colonize a global ocean provided they can tolerate fluctuations in temperature. We test 74 ecologically realistic scenarios that are then correlated with observed patterns of species richness for foraminifers and copepods, two important oceanic planktonic groups. Results: We found that the model accounted for 96% of the latitudinal gradient in foraminifers and 85% for copepods. Our model both reveals how patterns of biodiversity may develop, and suggests why some taxonomic groups appear not to follow the general pattern. While climate ultimately selected species that could establish in any given habitat, we saw a strong mid-domain effect (MDE) in the niche space. We believe this negates some shortcomings of the MDE that is often assumed to occur in the geographical space. Main conclusions: By showing the strong effect of temperature on biodiversity and revealing how it enables the development of a planetary gradient in marine biodiversity, our results offer a way to better understand why temperature is so often positively correlated with global patterns in species richness on a global scale. © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Henson S.,UK National Oceanography Center | Lampitt R.,UK National Oceanography Center | Johns D.,Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science
Limnology and Oceanography | Year: 2012

The North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) is a major mode of variability in the North Atlantic, dominating atmospheric and oceanic conditions. Here, we examine the phytoplankton community-structure response to the NAO using the Continuous Plankton Recorder data set. In the Northeast Atlantic, in the transition region between the gyres, variability in the relative influence of subpolar or subtropical-like conditions is reflected in the physical environment. During positive NAO periods, the region experiences subpolar-like conditions, with strong wind stress and deep mixed layers. In contrast, during negative NAO periods, the region shifts toward more subtropical-like conditions. Diatoms dominate the phytoplankton community in positive NAO periods, whereas in negative NAO periods, dinoflagellates outcompete diatoms. The implications for interannual variability in deep ocean carbon flux are examined using data from the Porcupine Abyssal Plain time-series station. Contrary to expectations, carbon flux to 3000 m is enhanced when diatoms are outcompeted by other phytoplankton functional types. Additionally, highest carbon fluxes were not associated with an increase in biomineral content, which implies that ballasting is not playing a dominant role in controlling the flux of material to the deep ocean in this region. In transition zones between gyre systems, phytoplankton populations can change in response to forcing induced by opposing NAO phases. © 2012, by the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography, Inc.

Owens N.J.P.,Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences | Year: 2014

This introduction traces the earliest interaction of ancient humans with their marine environment, through marine explorations in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, to the development of early marine science in the Enlightenment. This sets the scene for how marine observations developed in the modern era and explains the status of today's marine observation networks. The paper concludes with an assessment of the future needs and constraints of sustained marine observation networks and suggests the lessons from a long history might be the key to the future. © 2014 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-IEF | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-2010-IEF | Award Amount: 272.98K | Year: 2012

Regime shifts are abrupt changes encompassing a multitude of physical properties and ecosystem variables, which lead to new regime conditions. Regime shifts can cause large-scale losses of ecosystem services with severe consequences for human well-being. Recently regime shifts have been documented for various marine ecosystems. Novel research has found that many of those occurred quasi-simultaneously, raising the question about global-scale environmental forcing. In particular, all European seas seem to have underwent regime shifts in the late 1980s (Conversi et al., 2010). Understanding such co-occurrence is key to differentiating the role of large/hemispheric scale (climate) impacts from local/basin scale (eutrophication, overfishing, etc) impacts. This differentiation is in turn essential for both addressing marine ecosystem protection strategies, and understanding the climate biota relationship in global warming scenarios. The aims of this project are (i) to address, via a comparative, multi-basins approach, the large-scale synchrony in regime shift timing and its drivers, and (ii) to begin to address the development of prevention and mitigation strategies to be used in future ecosystem-based managements.

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