How can we characterise and predict complex responses of coastal benthic ecosystems to Global Changes (i.e. cumulative stressors due to both local perturbations & global climate-drive changes)?
In a stepwise manner, we aim to tackle this critical question using a suite of modelling approaches. First, we aim to identify major ecological states in coastal benthic ecosystems (e.g. temperate kelps beds, or tropical coral reefs) and characterise processes underlying alternative regimes using different regional and global datasets.
Generic trait-based models will be developped to capture benthic ecosystem structure and dynamics. In particular, we aim to characterise the dimensionality and traits (e.g. complexity, reef-formation) associated with major habitat-forming species, and how they contribute to ecosystem structure and functioning (e.g. wave buffering, shelter or food provision).
Model development will be stepwise as following three secondary objectives: (1) inferring trophic and non-trophic interactions that shape benthic ecosystem dynamics, (2) formalising trait-based rules that capture responses to stressors as well as major interactions, and (3) development of a simulation framework to understand and predict potential shifts in benthic ecosystem structure and functioning.
Application of the validated framework to regional case studies will also provide some insights on ecosystem resilience, and help predict potential for shifts in ecological dynamics under future scenarios.
Martin Marzloff (LEBCO)