ECOLOC is organized in the following 9 subprojects which aim to identify the relevance of landward vs. oceanic influence and responsible controls:
Subproject 1 (RWTH, HNU)
Assessment of chemical contamination in a coastal ecosystem subject to aquaculture discharges as a base for evaluating the related biological response.
Subproject 2 (IOW, TIO)
Diversity and abundances of marine Vibrio species and their phages in aquaculture systems and dispersal in coastal ecosystems.
Subproject 3 (IO-UHH, SIO)
Spatio-temporal variation of upwelling and coastal circulation and modes of substance dispersal.
Subproject 4 (SIO)
The upwelling and cross-shelf exchange of the Northern shelf slope of South China Sea and their ecosystem implications.
Subproject 5 (ZMT, IUP, HAOFS)
The influence of eutrophication on trace gas emissions and environmental factors such as the availability of oxygen and the pH.
Subproject 6 (ZMT, HAOFS, HNU, SIO)
Response of seagrasses to aquaculture effluents and the filtering capacity of seagrass meadows for anthropogenic nutrients and organic matter.
Subproject 7 (ZMT, HAOFS)
Diversity and community composition of coastal benthic invertebrates related to the dispersal of land-derived pollutants.
Subproject 8 (HNU)
Anthropogenic-induced changes of genetic diversity in corals around Hainan Island.
Subproject 9 (HAOFS)
Development of measures to mitigate the adverse effects of land-derived substances on Hainan’s coastal biota/habitats (seagrasses, corals, planktic and benthic organisms).
Conceptual sketch displaying the thematic organisation of ECOLOC and its deliverables
There are three major themes which will be addressed by the subprojects. These are ‘Inputs & Threats’, ‘Dynamics & Dispersal’ and ‘Response & Mitigation’. All subprojects will cooperate closely and conduct joint field campaigns in the same study areas to obtain representative and common sets of data and samples.
In the ‘Inputs & Threats’ section, subprojects 1 and 2 will investigate the sources, transport, transformation and fate of land-derived substances which have been identified as being the major threats to planktic and benthic organisms in the coastal habitats as a result of previous work. These are organic matter and dissolved inorganic nutrients and trace metals as well as possibly organic contaminants and microorganisms derived from aquaculture, municipal and industrial wastewater and hinterland agriculture.
The ‘Dynamics & Dispersal’ section will focus on hydrodynamics of the coastal region and upwelling in the northwestern South China Sea. Understanding the modes and patterns of circulation and material distribution is mandatory for understanding the physicochemical and biotic response to environmental change in Hainan’s coastal zone. It is the task of subprojects 3 and 4, the latter of which in itself is a larger scale collaborative project that also covers aspects of the ‘Inputs & Threats’ (input through upwelling from the South China Sea) and ‘Response & Mitigation’ sections. This section will also assess the influence of the ocean on the hydrodynamics and the nutrient dynamics of coastal waters.
And finally, the ‘Response & Mitigation’ section addresses the physicochemical and biotic response to environmental change as well as mitigation and management measures to be developed and implemented as a consequence of environmental change and impairment of ecosystem services. SP5 will deal with the physicochemical response to eutrophication, i.e. the potentially increased emission of greenhouse gases and changes in pH. Seagrass meadows have been identified as a major coastal habitat being in a state of transition towards reduced performance. SP6 will investigate the physiological response of seagrasses to inputs of all land-derived substances. Similarly, SP7 will address the diversity, distribution and community composition of benthic invertebrates in coastal habitats in relation to land-derived pollutants. SP8 is focused on corals and their anthropogenic-induced changes of genetic diversity. All these subprojects are intimately linked to those of the ‘Inputs & Threats’ section. Finally, SP9 will assess the changes and responses observed and develop measures towards a sustainable management of the coastal zone and mitigation of harmful effects of already impaired organisms/habitats.