Conserving pelagic habitats in changing environmen.. (CONPELHAB)
Conserving pelagic habitats in changing environments: marine top predators as bioindicators
Start date: Sep 1, 2011,
End date: Aug 31, 2014
"Currently, several studies have demonstrated the ecological impacts of global change from temperate to tropical environments, within a range of ecosystems and from the species to the community levels. Decades of research on marine ecosystems has shown that climatic variables are primary drivers of distributions and dynamics of pelagic organisms (e.g. plankton and fish), but the overall response of pelagic communities, which is likely to depend on the form and strength of the linkages between successive trophic levels, is not known. Within this framework, we present the current research project which aims to track the effects of global change in the pelagic community from temperate to polar environments. We will focus on the pelagic realm by studying distribution patterns and abundances of pelagic predators. Moreover, we will consider interactions at different spatial and temporal scales of prey-predator complex (mesoscale and regional, and seasonal and interannual), as well as with abiotic (meteo-climatic and hydrographic) and biotic components (phytoplankton and zooplankton biomass). By combining information on the spatiotemporal patterns of different pelagic components we will be able (1) to investigate the influence of oceanography and prey availability on the distribution of individual species of top predators and to develop habitat suitability models to define their pelagic habitats, (2) to predict how the distribution of individuals species of top predator will change in the next century considering multi-model IPCC scenarios and (3) to identify current hotspots in the pelagic realm by using multi-species distribution models and assess how these hotspots will change in the future in order to guide marine conservation initiatives such as Marine Protected Areas within the Marine Strategy Framework Directive."
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