New study shows that nutritious phytoplankton high in essential fatty acids support secondary production in coastal-estuarine waters

Coastal-estuarine ecosystems are some of the most productive habitats and contribute largely to fish and aquaculture production. This high productivity is ascribed to high primary production and efficient carbon transfer to higher trophic levels. Our novel results reveal that high production of nutritious phytoplankton in the form of diatoms and dinoflagellates in coastal-estuarine ecosystems is an additional factor contributing to high secondary production. Cyanobacteria and chlorophytes with low nutritional value for consumers dominate at low-salinity regions and in offshore oligotrophic oceanic regions. By producing phytoplankton forms rich in essential biochemicals that are efficiently transferred to consumers, make coastal-estuarine ecosystems a unique place for high production of fish and shellfish.

Winder, M., Carstensen, J., Galloway, A. W. E., Jakobsen, H. H. and Cloern, J. E. (2017), The land–sea interface: A source of high-quality phytoplankton to support secondary production. Limnol. Oceanogr.. doi:10.1002/lno.10650


Figure. Consumer growth and survival data performance as a function of diet % of long-chain essential fatty acids (LCEFA) grouped for important coastal organisms. These data suggest Increasing growth performance and a saturation or optima performance level with increase in diet LCEFA.


New study shows that appendicularian zooplankton thrive under warmer and more acidic ocean conditions and consequently alter carbon cycling


Oikopleura dioica, animal and house. Source:

This study provides to our knowledge the first experiment that contains multiple trophic levels and climate stressors (warming and ocean acidification) to investigate how gelatinous zooplankton (appendicularians) affect carbon cycling of marine food webs. Our novel results reveal that appendicularians thrive under climate warming and benefit from low pH levels, which alters the direction of carbon flow. An increase in the dominance of gelatinous zooplankton removes particles from the water column that might otherwise nourish copepods and fish by increasing carbon transport to depth. This helps to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, but may also have significant fisheries implications.

Winder, M., Bouquet, J.-M., Rafael Bermúdez, J., Berger, S. A., Hansen, T., Brandes, J., Sazhin, A. F., Nejstgaard, J. C., Båmstedt, U., Jakobsen, H. H., Dutz, J., Frischer, M. E., Troedsson, C. and Thompson, E. M. (2017) Increased appendicularian zooplankton alter carbon cycling under warmer more acidified ocean conditions. Limnol. Oceanogr. doi:10.1002/lno.10516



Mesocosm setup at the Marine Biology Station Espegrend,Bergen, Norway

Presentations at ASLO 2017, Honolulu Hawaii

Konrad Karlsson and Monika Winder attended the ASLO conference and presented their research.

Konrad presented results from this project on the adaptation potential of Baltic Sea copepod species to climate change. The study shows that warm adapted populations could be better prepared for future elevated temperatures, but food quality and lower salinity could hamper their relative benefits.

Monika presented research on phytoplankton diversity across the land-sea interface and it’s importance for secondary production. This study combines long-term phytoplankton observations and food quality of phytoplankton taxa, showing that the type of food quality produced in estuarine-coastal ecosystems is likely another factor contributing to their high productivity.

Photo: left: Konrad Karlsson, right: Konrad Karlsson, Andrea Caputo, Monika Winder

New article on ‘The importance of benthic–pelagic coupling for marine ecosystem functioning in a changing world’ in Global Change Biology

This synthesis article is based on a collaborative effort highlighting the importance of benthic-pelagic coupling under changing environmental conditions using the Baltic Sea as a case study.

We illustrate the varied nature of physical and biological benthicpelagic coupling processes and their potential sensitivity to three anthropogenic pressures climate change,nutrient loading, and fishing and summarize current knowledge on the exchange of inorganic nutrients and organic material between habitats. We emphasize how improved empirical and experimental understanding of benthicpelagic coupling processes and their variability are necessary to inform models that can quantify the feedbacks among processes and ecosystem responses to a changing world, and give recommendation for future research.

Griffiths, J. R., Kadin, M., Nascimento, F. J. A., Tamelander, T., Törnroos, A., Bonaglia, S., Bonsdorff, E., Brüchert, V., Gårdmark, A., Järnström, M., Kotta, J., Lindegren, M., Nordström, M. C., Norkko, A., Olsson, J., Weigel, B., Žydelis, R., Blenckner, T., Niiranen, S. and Winder, M. (2017) The importance of benthic–pelagic coupling for marine ecosystem functioning in a changing world. Glob Change Biol. doi:10.1111/gcb.13642




NEW: PhD position in Marine Ecology

We have an open PhD position in our group with focus on benthic-pelagic coupling.

Closing date: 20 September 2016

This position will be associated with the FORMAS project ‘Responses of pelagic-benthic coupling to environmental change in the Baltic Sea’. The goal of this project is to disentangle how shifts in pelagic and benthic species composition can affect the flux of organic matter and nutritional quality of settling material. The student will study relationships between planktonic and benthic dynamics using monitoring data, reciprocal fluxes of particulate organic matter and potentially experiments using experiments, and use this information to project functional species traits under future climate and nutrient scenarios. The project involves statistical analysis, experiments and modelling to assess effects of human pressure on benthic-pelagic coupling processes.

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