TANGO: Estimating Tipping points in the habitability of ANtarctic benthic ecosystems under GlObal future climate change scenarios


The TANGO project focuses on the interaction between sea-ice dynamics, food source changes, temperature rise and benthic ecology at different locations along the West Antarctic Peninsula in a context of rapid climate change. Since the effects of climatic fluctuations on natural ecosystems remain poorly understood, this project aims to develop a mechanistic framework to predict tipping points leading to regime shifts in coastal Antarctic ecosystems, focusing on the benthos (organisms living in contact with the seafloor).

The project framework consists of the integration of different biological/ecological levels, from

  1. individual metabolic responses,
  2. constraints of environmental changes on species interactions (trophic ecology and space competition),
  3. the dynamics of the communities and its consequences for carbon fluxes and finally
  4. responses upscaled to ecosystem levels.

Regime shifts and threshold dynamics from individuals to ecosystems will be investigated by empirical evidence using long-term datasets, field observations along natural gradients and experimental and modelling approaches in Antarctic coastal ecosystems. We will focus on selected taxa representing the main functional traits in a coastal benthic community. Different size classes (meio- to megafauna), life strategies (pioneer to climax species) as well as different trophic groups will be covered and for which the expertise exists in the consortium.