The temperature is one of the factors influencing variety and abundance of microscopic communities in the Fleet.
Despite the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Research team from Cefas has successfully completed the 3rd summer of water sampling. The shallow lagoon waters warm up more than the open sea during summer, which makes the Fleet an ideal area to study the effect of rising sea temperatures.
The water samples are analysed for two projects funded by Cefas. The first project, which started with a pilot study in 2018, focuses on bacterial species thriving in brackish/low salinity warm waters. The scientists collect and compare the results between three locations, which have different salinities. As yet, there is not enough data to compare multiple years, however it is clear that an unusually hot summer of 2018 had an impact on these bacterial species.
The second project focuses on a single location within the Fleet. It explores the connections between the environment (temperature, nutrients), and bacterial and phytoplankton communities. These communities can be a source of naturally occurring compounds, and subsequently find their way into shellfish mainly through the filter-feeding. “The late spring and early summer, when the lagoon water warms up above 18 °C, is especially interesting”, explains a research scientist from Cefas based in Weymouth and adds: “We are grateful to have an opportunity to study such beautiful area and so close to our laboratory.”
Visible beauty: one of the sampling sites near Abbotsbury. Image credit: Cefas.
Both projects use a variety of methods. Some are more established, for example, light microscopy, however some (genetic or chemical methods) rely on more recently developed technologies. The scientists continue analysing the samples and hope to publish some of the main findings in a year’s time. Their research will help to understand the effect of warming water temperatures on microorganisms and subsequently on bigger organisms like oysters, which feed on them.
Invisible beauty in the Fleet: Licmophora sp. (left) and Striatella unipunctata (right), both microscopic phytoplankton species. Image credit: Cefas.
Thank you to CEFAS for this report.
CEFAS have been carrying out research into the dynamics of bacterial communities linked to climate change, since 2018.
The Reserve team encourages research on Chesil or in the Fleet to helps us better understand the site and improve it’s management.
Anyone wishing to carry out research should contact the reserve office firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss and apply for a permit.