Monika Winder, Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences, Stockholm University
Monika Winder, Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences, Stockholm University

How would you describe your project in a few sentences?

The goal of this project is to synthesize present knowledge on the linkages between open water and seafloor habitats in the Baltic Sea. These linkages are key attributes of the Baltic Sea ecosystem and likely crucial to its functioning. It is unknown, however, how sensitive these linkages are to future climate change and other human impacts (such as nutrient runoff and fishing). We focus on describing where these linkages are most important and how they may be affected by future change. This is a collaborative effort between scientists working on various research topics in the Baltic Sea, including those who focus on living organisms, chemistry, and oceanography.

What are your most important results, and for whom are they particularly useful?

We bring together information from many studies to identify where in the Baltic Sea linkages between the open water and seafloor habitats are the strongest (for example, at what depth or salinity). We further evaluate which future changes will be most likely to change the strength of these linkages. Most importantly, we identify major knowledge gaps regarding these linkages and their sensitivity which may have implications for the ability of the Baltic Sea to function as desired by manager and the public. Our results can inform research goals set by funders, government organizations, and researchers by identifying the knowledge needed to incorporate these linkages explicitly into our management of the Baltic Sea today and in the future.

How can it assist an ecosystem-based management of the marine environment?

The provision of ecosystem goods and services by the Baltic Sea, such as fish production and clean water depend largely on the coupling of processes between seafloor and open water habitats. These linkages are evidence of the strong interconnectedness among ecosystem components in the Baltic Sea. Management decisions in one compartment (for example, fishing rate) can affect other compartments via these linkages with consequences for different functions and services. The output of this project will thus be useful for managers as it provides a synthesis of current knowledge of habitat linkages and therefore an opportunity to better understand the ecosystem consequences of different management decisions.

Susa Niiranen, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University