Coastal marine research
Project leader: Assoc. Prof. Patricija Mozetič, PhD
Code: P1-0237 (C)
Duration: 1.1.2015 - 31.12.2019
Multidisciplinary program aims at integrating approaches of biological, chemical and physical oceanography of coastal sea into research of ecosystem biocomplexity including human dimension. The research includes primary production coupled to taxon-specific plankton biomass and long-term community transformation in relation to main oceanographic driving forces. Tide, wind-driven and high-frequency variations of circulation will be studied particularly in the season when different eutrophication or other harmful phenomena occur (mucilage, HAB, bottom layer oxygen depletion). An automated probe for measurements of delayed luminiscence for in situ qualitative and quantitative characterisation of phytoplankton will be developed. Plankton studies will be completed by research of microbial food web and research of gelatinous zooplankton massive outbreaks, a serious ecological problem in many enclosed seas. Assessment of the trophic status and its changes due to pollution will be complemented by analyses of biomarkers. Impairement of dissolved organic matter degradation has been implied as most important causative factor for development of mucilage accumulations. Photochemical transformations and microbial degradation of organic matter are both important in shallow coastal waters and research into these processes represent important part of our study of biogeochemistry of OM. Benthic studies include biogeochemistry of sediments within seagrass meadows and meiofauna variations in polluted/unpolluted environments. Variations in small coastal ichthyofauna as related to climatic changes complete biodiversity studies. Advances in laboratory methods and modelling will help reaching our research goals and field work using research boat is the backbone of research activities; field data are continuously provided also by Coastal Oceanographic Station (located about 1 mile offshore).
Significance for science
Expanding our knowledge on marine processes and interactions between humans and seas is fundamental for future human welfare. With our research programme we contribute to understanding of structural and functional characteristics of the coastal and semi-enclosed seas. Multidisciplinary approach, application of new methodologies and techniques, and modelling of processes will help elucidating mechanisms and driving forces of coastal ecosystem dynamics including some harmful phenomena (eutrophication, mucilage, massive jellyfish outbursts, impacts of pollution). Temperate marine environments may be particularly vulnerable to climate changes. Results of our analyses of long-term fluctuations will help to assess whether signals of global changes translate into modifications of coastal ecosystems and affect different trophic levels. The results will also contribute to the understanding of biogeochemical cycles in the marine environment and functioning of coastal ecosystems.