About the International Working Group on the
Ecosystem Level Impacts of Ocean Acidification

Exploring the effects of ocean acidification on the structure and function of ecosystems: a UK/US research collaboration

Participants at the 1st workshop of the International Working Group on the Ecosystem Level Impacts of Ocean Acidification (Hopkins Marine Laboratory, 28th-29th October 2012)

On the 28th & 29th October 2012, a group of researchers met at Hopkins Marine Station in Monterey, California, USA, to discuss approaches for assessing the effects of ocean acidification on the structure and function of ecosystems. Thirty-three participants explored topics including; model approaches to scale-up from single-species studies to population and community levels, the utility of various experimental data for modellers, use of long-term observations, natural gradients, or manipulative experiments, and mechanisms to promote collaboration among disciplines.

The group discussed the value and roles of integrating observational, experimental, and modelling studies to advance understanding of mechanisms influencing species’ performance and ecosystem function, as well as predictions of ecosystem change, in response to changes in carbonate chemistry associated with ocean acidification. An effort to coordinate or initiate a global network among groups collecting comparable long-term ecological observations at local/regional scales is a proposed goal of the OA ecosystems working group. This approach is expected to broaden the context of projects focused on patterns in ecological communities over gradients in carbonate chemistry on local to regional scales, and allow a global comparison of ecosystem responses to the developing pattern of ocean acidification. Toward this effort, the group plans to organize an OA ecosystems working group, promote future joint activities and collaborations, and convene a second meeting to advance these goals.

The workshop was also designed to follow up on the recent UK-US Collaboration Development Award Programme, which sought to foster collaborative ocean acidification research between researchers from the US and UK. The original program laid the groundwork for future collaborative proposals and this meeting brought together expert OA modellers and experimentalists, principally from the UK and US. The major goals were to initiate discussion on the topics discussed above and plan potential collaborations among investigators, ultimately to advance our understanding of the effects of ocean acidification for ecosystems around the world. The workshop was scheduled to coincide with the “Ocean in a High CO2 World” Symposium in Monterey to reduce organizational, travel and environmental costs. The workshop was supported financially by the Ocean Carbon and Biogeochemistry Group (OCB) and the Global Issues Group from the British Embassy.

The key aims were to establish a:  

  • new network of connections and collaborators in the field of ecosystem level responses to ocean acidification
  • community agreement on the best approaches to adopt for ecosystem level research and experimentation
  • plan for new joint projects and studies
  • viewpoint article summarising the main outcomes of the workshop