Studying the complex relations between marine biota and the environmental variables is a primary requirement for ecosystem management and conservation, especially in vulnerable insular systems characterized by isolation and a high level of endemisms.
To address part of these issues, the scientific approach of MARE-Madeira combines field surveys and manipulation experiments, interplaying between biological invasions, climate change, and stress ecology.
Aquatic mesocosms are designed to evaluate how organisms or communities might react to environmental change through controlled manipulation of environmental variables, acting as a link between field surveys and highly controlled laboratory experiments, since they take into account relevant aspects from the real world, without losing the advantage of reliable reference conditions and replication.
In this context, the mesocosm system MOSS (Marine Organisms Stress Simulator) set up at the MARE-Madeira facility at Quinta do Lorde Marina, is designed to test key questions in marine ecology and biology using continuous flow-through seawater. The MOSS infrastructure includes 6 pre-treated tanks (400 L) and 8 mesocosm units (500 L) allowing to develop of several experiments simultaneously with the potential to manipulate a range of environmental factors (including light, nutrients, pH (CO2), temperature), and perform thermal tolerance trials, stress ecology trials, or community-ecosystem ecology trials.
MARE-Madeira also has a small sampling laboratory with several stereomicroscopes and a variety of field and technical equipment that allow performing experimental studies in the field.