Integrating Coastal Oceanic and Benthic Ecological Approaches for Understanding Large-Scale Meta-Ecosystem Dynamics


As the reality of climate change became obvious during the late 1900s, the need for understanding ecosystem pattern and dynamics at large scales and for long periods became increasingly evident. This realization inspired the genesis of the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans (PISCO). PISCO research aimed to quantify intertidal and subtidal biogeographic patterns of community structure and ecological subsidies, create a mooring network to document inner-shelf oceanic conditions, and conduct coordinated, coast-wide experiments testing hypotheses on the relative influences of top-down, bottom-up, non-trophic, and ecological subsidy processes. To date, insights include (1) at large scales, bottom-up and related processes drive species interactions and thereby dominate in structuring benthic communities, (2) local-to-latitudinal variation in these processes is ultimately determined by upwelling interacting with coastal geomorphology, and (3) these and similar systems are thus prime examples of “meta-ecosystems” or local-scale ecosystems that are linked by flows of propagules, particulates, and nutrients.

Mark Novak
Mark Novak
Associate Professor