|Division||Biosciences | Shelf Sea System Ecology | PlanktoSERV|
|Julien Di Pane|
Alfred Wegener Institute
( Room A-216)
Planktonic organisms are at the base of the aquatic food webs. This universe of drifters is highly diversified in size classes and in the multitude of behavioral, morphological and physiological adaptations that these organisms display. Because phytoplankton and zooplankton are particularly sensitive to environmental change, global change (i.e warming, acidification, changes in nutrient concentrations) may alter ecosystem services provided by planktonic food webs, such as nutrient turnover, provision of food to higher trophic levels, and carbon cycling. Without understanding the synergistic or antagonistic effects of multiple drivers, it is obvious that we cannot predict alterations in ecosystem services, making it difficult to efficiently manage coastal ecosystems. Therefore, the understanding of “who eats whom” in this highly environmental-dependent compartment is a fundamental objective in ecology.
My post doctorate project takes place in this context of a changing environment and aims to enhance the knowledge of the response of plankton food webs to global change. This work is based on a functional approach using extensive data collected during numerous experiments (see PlanktoSERV project), as well as from the unique in situ long-term dataset of Helgoland Roads. The functional approach uses bio-ecological traits defined as any morphological, physiological or phenological feature that reflects fitness indirectly via its effects on growth, reproduction and survival, which can provide a mechanistic understanding of changes in planktonic functional structure in response to stressors. The main aims of my project are to (1) understand how global change affects the structure of planktonic food webs, (2) quantify alterations in interaction strengths between different components of the food web, and (3) evaluate cascading effects on ecosystem services. Results should allow a better understanding of the complex influence of the environment on planktonic food webs.