The proposed project will study the ecology of an extreme environment, the wave swept t zone of rocky shores (MAST III. A.2.3). The findings will also increase understanding of the importance of biodiversity in ecosystem function (MAST III. A.1.3). The approach will be to integrate field-experimental and modelling studies from the individual through the population to the community level. Most importantly, generality of ecological processes will be investigated on a European-wide scale using common methodologies and experimental designs. This will enable valid north-south and Atlantic-Mediterranean comparisons of the relative importance of abiotic factors and biological interactions within the wave swept zone. Specifically the aims are to:
1) Co-ordinate the activities of individual research groups
via the development of standardised methodologies and implementation of current international standards of experimental design, thereby enabling European-scale research.
2) Develop technologies for continuous automatic measurement of the physical environment of the wave-swept zone; refine telemetric methods for studying foraging jbehaviour; refine image analysis methods for use in studies of recruitment and community interactions.
3) Investigate the role of abiotic factors and biological interactions in influencing the spatial and temporal patterns of foraging by major grazers and predators, including previously-ignored mobile predators, on Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts.
4) Investigate the relative importance of physical factors, recruitment fluctuations and activities of consumers (investigated in 3) in structuring rocky shore communities along a European geographic gradient. 5) In parallel with the information from 2), 3) and 4), develop models linking iindividual behaviour with population and community processes. These models, together with the expertise derived from 2), 3) and 4), will increase understanding of current impacts on the European rocky coastline (oil spills, TBT, human predation, etc.) and facilitate the prediction of future impacts. Investigation sites will be appropriately nested to enable European-wide processes to .be separated from regional and local variation. Aim 3 will rely heavily on telemetric/continuous and video-recording devices, planned for development under Aim 2. Aim 4 will rely on photographic-based records to analyse barnacle recruitment and population dynamics, coupled with manipulative field experiments to investigate interactions between space occupiers, grazers and predators.
Modelling will use a variety of analytical techniques (Monte Carlo methods, optimality models, Matrix population models, cellular automata-based models and model simulations).
A major benefit of this project will be its integrated European-wide experimental approachi this will be the first time this approach has been used on such a scale. The European coastline provides an ideal model system for such extensive work.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
LL57 2UW Bangor - Gwynedd
415 30 Göteborg
IM9 6JA Port Erin, Isle Of Man
SO9 3TU Southampton