SITES AquaNet is a standardized infrastructure for national and international researches to run mesocosm experiments in lakes at Asa, Erken, Skogaryd and Svartberget field stations.

Apply now!
The experimental infrastructure is now fully operational for national and international researches to conduct experiments in any of the stations involved! Please contact the stations managers if you require more information on the availability of the infrastructure and establish a plan to use it:

SITES Director: Anders Lindroth, anders.lindroth@slu.se, 070-5738633
Svartberget: Tomas Lundmark,  tomas.lundmark@slu.se, phone: 070-6317412
Erken: Silke Langenheder, silke.langenheder@ebc.uu.se, phone: 073-8201854
Skogaryd: Leif Klemedtsson, leif.klemedtsson@gu.se, phone: 031-7862632
Asa: Martin Ahlstrom, martin.ahlstrom@slu.se, phone: 0472-263171

Participating field
research stations

Asa
Erken
Skogaryd
Svartberget

Measurement program
SITES AquaNet

Coordinator
Pablo Urrutia Cordero
pablo.urrutiacordero@ebc.uu.se

PI
Helmut Hillebrand

SITES AquaNet offers to researchers the following:

  • Open access to equipment to run mesocosm experiments in one or more lakes spread across a geographical and climatic gradient in Sweden.
  • Experimental and technical support from qualified station´s personnel.
  • Linkage of experimental results to lake time series data and stream-lake interactions in collaboration with the sister monitoring project SITES Water (coordinator: leif.klemedtsson@gu.se).

Description of the infrastructure

Location

The infrastructure is located in four SITES stations (Svartberget, Erken, Skogaryd and Asa) and hence enables modularized experimental manipulations in lakes along a latitudinal gradient in Sweden. The lakes in each respective station (Stortjärn, Erken, Erssjön and Feresjön) vary in local environmental conditions. This allows achieving general conclusions on ecological phenomena; particularly how local differences between important variables across sites (e.g., temperature, elevation, nutrients) mediate the outcomes of experimental manipulations of explanatory predictors for the phenomena.

Mesocosm enclosures
Each site is equipped with a jetfloat deployed in its local lake with 16-20 polyethylen cylindrical enclosures (700 L, 1.5 m deep, 0.8m Ø). Experimental manipulations can also be done in easily assembled polyethylen film enclosures with different shapes and dimensions, and the jetfloat can be moved to different locations (even other nearby lakes) and re-structured to fit various experimental needs.
Sensor measurements
The experimental facilities have a sensor and datalogging system to measure in each mesocosm real-time environmental parameters, such as DO, temperature, photosynthetic active radiation, chlorophyll, phycocyanin and turbidity. In addition, handheld sensor units offer the possibility to measure in situ pH and conductivity. This technical arrangement of sensors is unique worldwide and it allows researchers to capture much better ecological responses and at temporal scales that were not possible before.
Standardized sample collection and analyses
SITES AquaNet has established protocols to standardize both field and laboratory work. Each station is equipped with field equipment for collection of samples and there is access to cold storage, freezing rooms and laboratory facilities for filtering and extraction of samples for a wide range of analyses. There is also connection to laboratories for further sample analyses at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Umeå University, Uppsala University or Gothenburg University.
Accommodation
In all stations there is available accommodation for researches in either in situ facilities or nearby hostels.
Research topics
The versatility of the experimental facility enables researches to address questions in many different topics: biodiversity-functioning-stability relationships, community ecology, ecological stoichiometry, food web interactions, benthic-pelagic dynamics, biogeochemistry (e.g., nutrient cycling), land-water-air gas exchange, plant physiology, cyanobacterial blooms and global change research.

Experimental tests 2017

During spring and summer 2017, SITES AquaNet conducted pilot experimental tests to
(i) validate the use of experimental enclosures, sensor systems, sampling material and laboratory facilities,
(ii) train research station´s personnel in conducting mesocosm experiments,
(iii) create standardized protocols for field and laboratory work and
(iv) produce a test case to promote the infrastructure nationally and internationally with the purpose to further achieve a larger, global endeavor similar to the Nutrient Network in grassland ecosystems.

Two experimental tests were conducted in each SITES AquaNet station (Svartberget, Erken, Skogaryd and Asa) and in a SITES AquaNet collaborator (Sweden Water Research, in Lake Bolmen); one month-long experiment in May-June and another in August-September. The experimental tests investigated the interactive effects of bottom-up (a reduction in light availability) and top-down (fish predation) disturbances on the stability of plankton community composition (bacterio-, phyto- and zoo-plankton) and ecosystem functioning. The experiments consisted of a fourfold replication of a full-factorial design with
(i) no disturbance (control),
(ii) light reduction as a press (constant) disturbance,
(iii) fish predation as a pulse (temporary) disturbance and
(iv) press and pulse disturbances combined.

This experimental design then allowed to address the response of multiple aspects of ecology stability (resistance, recovery, resilience and temporal stability) of both community structural and functional response variables and to investigate how these relate to each other in order to further our understanding in current diversity-stability theory.

SITES AquaNet expects to upload these experimental data to a publicly available SITES server, so that researches can use it to produce scientific publications. A publication policy for the use of this data will also be available at this website with the purpose to promote those actions and hence SITES AquaNet both nationally and internationally.