An indoor pelagic mesocosm facility to simulate multiple water-column characteristics

Document Type: Original Article


Umeå Marine Sciences Centre, University of Umeå, Norrbyn, 905 71, Hörnefors, Sweden


Mesocosms are important research tools in aquatic ecology because they close the gap between laboratory studies at the individual or lower organization level and field studies at the population and ecosystem level. However, most mesocosm studies regarding the pelagic environment do not consider the effects of physical factors like water-column stratification, turbulence and mixing. Neglecting such factors might bias the results compared to the natural system. Using a unique indoor mesocosm facility, we present results on how different water-column stratifications can be made and how they act as barriers for exchange between water layers. Turbulent mixing, simulated by vertically rotating incubation vessels, is shown to be of high importance for primary production, generating up to nine times higher production in humus-rich water than incubation vessels at fixed depths. Convective stirring is shown to be an attractive method for generating different turbulence conditions, and different temperature settings can be used to get turnover times from 84 h or more down to 17 min for a 5-m water parcel. We also demonstrate how an anoxic bottom layer can be achieved by stimulating heterotrophic bacteria through addition of bioavailable organic carbon.