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COCKLES PROJECT | Work Packages

WP6

Lead Partner

Peter Robins

Modelling flows: Larval dispersal and trophic cascades

Responsible partner

Bangor University | UK

In this action, we will use models to simulate Atlantic Area Ocean currents. Well-proven models will be run to accurately simulate present-day and projected future (2100) ocean circulation.

In this action, we will investigate the likely movements of the cockles when they are in their larval stage of development. This initial stage usually lasts about one month and this is when their fate is sealed – do they return to where they were spawned from or get washed away with the currents to ‘connect’ with a distant population? We will use techniques in a laboratory to observe their movements during this crucial stage and discover whether they are influenced by environmental factors such as temperature.

In this action, information gained from the ocean model and from the cockle movements in the laboratory will be used to simulate cockle transport around the Atlantic. This ‘cockle model’ will simulate potential movements during cold vs. warm periods, or calm vs. stormy conditions – and also look into the future to see how things might change as temperatures warm. The advantage of this model is that we can predict which cockle populations are strongly connected to each other and where weak or sensitive connections are that need to be carefully managed. The outcomes of this action will be available in a user-friendly viewer.

Finally, we will use another type of model – and ‘ecological model’ – to estimate the movements of material between populations via other filter-feeding organisms. This model uses information on biomass and filtration potential, ocean currents, and primary production. The final result will be predicting the carrying capacities of cockles – i.e. the size of the population that the local environment can naturally support.