PerspectiveMarine Ecology

Marine food webs destabilized

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Science  14 Aug 2020:
Vol. 369, Issue 6505, pp. 770-771
DOI: 10.1126/science.abd5739

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Summary

Forecasting the ecological consequences of climate change requires both observations and experiments. Among the most informative experiments are manipulations of ecosystems, either through large outdoor interventions or through the construction of mesocosms (1)—replicas of the natural world that enable conditions to be carefully controlled. Mesocosms typically mimic the complexity of natural ecosystems, enabling researchers to disentangle how these systems work now and what path they might follow as future conditions change. They can also be replicated, enabling signal to be distinguished from the variability that is an inherent feature of natural systems. On page 829 of this issue, Nagelkerken et al. (2) report on their use of mesocosms to better understand the future of marine systems and the ecological services they deliver. They find that marine benthic ecosystems have limited capacity to respond to a future combination of warming and acidification, with considerable degradation a potential outcome.

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