Our shared sea

Mechanisms of ecosystem change in the Western Channel

The project has been split into five themes to help us research and disseminate the broadest range of topics. The themes are as follows:

Monitoring the ecosystem of the Western English Channel – sharing resources

Programs for (1) long-term in situ monitoring of the coastal environment and (2) long-term ex situ conservation of living biological resources are essential parts of the infrastructure underpinning the basic and applied research activities and educational programs of the academic partner institutes from both Plymouth and Roscoff, as well as serving the wider scientific community on regional, national and European scales.

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Climate change, artificial habitats & biological invasions: impacts on population and community functioning

Together with climate change and habitat alteration, biological introductions are major facets of global change and main drivers of ecosystem changes according to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Biological introductions are related directly or indirectly to human-mediated transport and disturbances. They have profound impact on coastal biodiversity and may permanently alter the structure and functioning of coastal ecosystems.

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Endogenous marine organisms of the Western Channel in a changing environment

The coastal ecosystems of the Channel are subjected to a broad range of anthropogenic influences, including both the indirect effects of climate change and the direct effects of pollution and maritime commercial and leisure activities. The responses of coastal ecosystems to such perturbations are difficult to predict, and this is in part due to a lack of understanding of the basic biology of the organisms that make up these ecosystems. Marine macroalgae, or seaweeds, are keystone species in the rocky shore environments that make up most of the coastline along both sides of the Channel, and these organisms provide habitats for a wide range of other species. One objective of this work package will be to investigate key biological processes in macroalgae of direct relevance to their ability to respond to modifications to their environment. This will involve work both on the model seaweed Ectocarpus siliculosus and on Fucus and Laminaria species, which are major components of coastal eccosystems in the Western Channel.

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