Start and End Date

01 April 2020-31 March 2024



Project Total Budget

9 999 564,88 €

Turkish Partners

Middle East Technical University

Desteklendiği Program ve Alan
Research Infrastructures
Supported Framework Program

Ufuk 2020


AQUACOSM-plus: Network of Leading Ecosystem Scale Experimental AQUAtic MesoCOSM Facilities Connecting Rivers, Lakes, Estuaries and Oceans in Europe and beyond

Water is a fundamental resource for humans and other lifeforms on Earth. The demand of water has throughout history been a driving factor for the placement of human settlements. Today, the use of water for drinking, fisheries, agriculture, industry, and numerous other activities from a human population nearing 8 billion puts a tremendous pressure on virtually all aquatic ecosystems. The multiple pressures result in loss of biodiversity and basic ecosystem functions that are dramatic even in comparison with terrestrial counterparts, representing one of the Grand Challenges of modern societies (Sala et al 2000, Dudgeon et al 2006). With human populations projected to grow for the next decades, demands for aquatic ecosystem services will continue to increase, with the risk of reaching and passing critical tipping points. To this end, it is crucial to identify the mechanisms behind aquatic ecosystem changes, which is an extremely difficult task in complex natural systems subject to multiple stressors. Mesocosm-based science is a powerful tool to investigate cause and effect, as it combines a realistic scale and complexity, comparable with natural systems, with multiple experimental units required for replication.

AQUACOSM-plus advances European mesocosm-based aquatic RI by integrating the leading mesocosm infrastructures into a coherent, interdisciplinary, and interoperable network covering all ecoregions of Europe. AQUACOSM-plus widens the user base by extending TA provision (> 13000 person-days), and strengthening the offered services, with 10 new partners, including an NGO and doubling of SMEs. AQUACOSM-plus develops new technological capabilities for mesocosm research, to effectively execute scenario-testing for Climate Change -related pressures on aquatic systems from upstream fresh waters to the sea. These developments include mobile large-scale mesocosm approaches, leading-edge imaging technologies, and affordable methods to obtain high- frequency data on community change and greenhouse gas fluxes in mesocosm settings. By fully meeting the Specific Challenge and Scope of the call, AQUACOSM-plus provides a globally unique platform for transformative aquatic mesocosm research, operationalizing its innovation potential. Compared to its predecessors, AQUACOSM-plus represents a significant expansion and development of several critical aspects (Fig. 1a,b,c).  The FP7-funded network MESOAQUA (2009-2012), covering only limited marine sites, represented the first coordinated mesocosm facilities. The ongoing H2020 AQUACOSM project (2017-2021) brought together, for the first time, leading representatives of mesocosm- based research from all major aquatic system types, from the upper catchments across lakes and streams down to the sea, in a joint effort to initiate an internal harmonisation to bridge a centennial divide in research between these environments.

AQUACOSM-plus identifies Global Challenges as an overarching theme for the advancements presented here, and therefore aims at a global impact with dedicated workpackes. AQUACOSM-plus is highly relevant to major international initiatives, including but not limited to the work of IPCC, as well as the Millennium Goals, and the Post-2015 Development Framework towards evidence-based policy-making, including major participating stakeholders within the civil society. 

AQUACOSM-plus will set a world standard by: 1) expanding the scope and integration of the transnational cooperative network of experimental platforms that offer an increased range of world leading aquatic mesocosm facilities for basic and applied research within both marine and freshwater science; 2) educating a new generation of scientists and engineers; 3) promoting open science; 4) being an attractive testing ground for industries to promote innovation of new technology; 5) increasing dissemination of methods and results; and 6) closely coordinating mesocosm-based research activities and new technologies involving the broad scientific community, SMEs and stakeholders in the water sector. Both SMEs and stakeholders will be integrated in the design and execution of the research using the experimental platforms, as well as in the interpretation and communication of results, in a process referred to as co-design and co- production, as defined in the emerging integrative and trans-disciplinary global-change programme Future Earth. 
To meet all these state of the art goals AQUACOSM-plus has been designed to have 9 workpackges which includes identifying the grand challenges (WP6) for aquatic ecosystems which would set the scene for co-designing new experiments (WP8) with incooperation of technology innovation (WP7) and Transnational Access users (WP9) whom will be trained and involved in networking activites designed in WP3. Open Access and open science (WP4) the core action of AQ- AQUACOSM-plus  together with strategy and policy development (WP2 (see figure 2).
Prof.Dr. Meryem Beklioğlu, METU and her team has been the partner for AQUACOSM and AQUACOSM-plus projects. Currently, Prof.Beklioğlu is leading the WP3 on networking and training activities of AQUACOSM-plus. Her and her team work during AQUACOSM Project was very succesful, they have carried out three different succesfull experiments with over 30 Transnational Access users from all over the World. Their succes has paid off in AQUACOSM-Plus that they have the 2nd highest person months in the Project after the PI instute.


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