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MARINFORSK-Marine ressurser og miljø

Effects of multiple stressors on coastal copepods: MULTICOP

Alternative title: Effekten av samtidige påvirkningsfaktorer på kystlevende hoppekreps: MULTICOP

Awarded: NOK 10.3 mill.

Pollution is one of today's most pressing environmental challenges for life in the sea. Pollutants act in concert with natural stressors such as predation and starvation. In MULTICOP, we study the effects of combined biotic and anthropogenic stressors on key biological responses in important marine animals; the copepods. These small crustaceans are crucial to the functioning of the marine food web, as they are an important food source of fish. We combine lab, field and modelling studies to identify effects and mechanisms by which the perceived risk of being eaten changes the toxicity response to a common metal contaminant in copepods. We use the smell of three-spined sticklebacks to simulate predation risk and copper as our model pollutant. Copper is a widely and increasingly used antifouling biocide along the Norwegian coast. An analysis of published literature showed us that one of the major physical drivers of copper toxicity is temperature. However, little is known about the impact of biological stressors. In MULTICOP, we test the variation in responses within and between populations. To investigate effects of long-term exposure, we sampled copepods along a gradient from high to low aquaculture intensity near Stavanger. We then exposed them to predation risk and copper to test for differences in survival. We also set up a 3-month-long outdoor exposure experiment, in which we simulated tidal pools over the course of 3 generations. We took samples once a month to investigate population dynamics and physiological effects. Furthermore, we have already tested for differences in survival among several species sampled in the Oslofjord in order to increase the ecological relevance of our findings. These data are yet to be analysed. We will conduct more experiments on reproduction and foraging, and incorporate our results in models to identify mechanisms behind stressor interactions. Our aim is to increase our ability to predict population-level consequences of exposure and to assess whether considering multiple stressors for environmental monitoring purposes is necessary.

MULTICOP study effects of combined biotic and anthropogenic stressors on key biological responses in important marine animals; the copepods. Coastal waters represent highly relevant biological systems for studying combined effects of biotic stressors on contaminant toxicity. Predation risk importantly structure marine ecosystem dynamics (e.g. diel vertical migration), yet only one marine study exists in which effects of perceived predation risk on anthropogenic stressor toxicity is examined experimentally. MULTICOP takes an integrative approach, combining lab, field and modelling studies, to identify the mechanism by which perceived predation risk potentiates the toxicity response to copper exposure in the coastal copepod Tigriopus brevicornis. Tigriopus spp. occur worldwide and are well established model species in ecotoxicology. Predation risk is simulated by three-spined stickleback kairomones (i.e. chemical cues). Copper is an antifouling biocide used in high volume in shipping and aquaculture along the Norwegian coast. The main approaches of MULTICOP are i) experimental work on individual-level traits to identify effects and mechanisms of combined predation risk and copper exposure, ii) to increase ecological relevance of findings by conducting a species sensitivity distribution (SSD) and by identifying effects of multigenerational exposure on alleviating effects, iii) use dynamic energy budget modelling to identify mechanism of stressor interactions and coupled with population modelling predict population-level consequences of exposure, iv) show from a societal-relevant perspective the importance of considering multiple stressors for environmental monitoring purposes, and v) report results in ways applicable for relevant stakeholders. The MULTICOP results will have important societal impact and provide urgently needed knowledge of biological impacts from multiple stressors with importance to future marine environmental management and sea food production.

Funding scheme:

MARINFORSK-Marine ressurser og miljø