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Carnivorous zooplankton – their role in Swedish marine food webs

Final Report Summary - CARNIVOROUS ZOO (Carnivorous zooplankton - their role in Swedish marine food webs)

In this report, I present the outcome of the CARNIVOROUS ZOO project for the period from 1 April 2019 to 31 May 2012.

When analysing the structure of pelagic ecosystems, it is important to know whether abundances at any particularly trophic level is controlled by bottom-up (resources) or by top down (predation). Both resource limitation and predation are possible and may act in concert and both types of control have been reported in aquatic ecosystems. Although there have been numerous investigations of resource limitation on community structure, the relative importance of different components of the zooplankton community as agents of predation is not well investigated. Therefore, this project will focus on how carnivorous zooplankton function in the pelagic food web and their role in structuring the pelagic community. Carnivorous zooplankton have a substantial impact on prey and selective predation by zooplankton may influence the trophic structure of the pelagic food web. Studies on the selectivity by predators are rare. This is mainly due to lack of simultaneous data on vertical distribution and co occurrence of prey and predators, a necessary piece of information to show selectivity and estimate predation impact. The overall objective was to investigate zooplankton dynamics, e.g. invertebrate predation, in the Baltic, the Kattegat and the Skagerrak.

The research project has generated new, and vastly lacking, knowledge of carnivorous zooplankton in Swedish and Arctic waters. This knowledge has long been needed by pelagic ecologists, modellers and policy makers. A thorough understanding of the dynamics of food webs is a principle key to enable accurate predictions of global warming on marine food webs and manage sustainable fisheries.

My Marie Curie European Reintegration Grant (ERG) at the Department of Marine Ecology at University of Gothenburg (GU) in Sweden did not only provide new knowledge about food webs, it is also a long-term investment in my future research career. During the ERG project, my practical proficiency was improved using new techniques and participation on cruises. The teaching in pelagic ecology improved my pedagogic skills and my ability in leadership, and active participation in international conferences greatly improved my networking skills and expanded my personal scientific network and initiated a number of ad hoc collabourations, resulting in research activities or applications.

The specific research gave me the scientific tools, the expertise and self-confidence to carry out high level research as a scientist with professional maturity and independence as well as gave me valuable experience in networking, fund-raising and project management at European Union (EU) level.