Assessment of marine ecosystem services at the Latin-American Antares time-series network (CRN 3094)

Project information

Milton Kampel (
Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais, Brazil
Nov 2013/ Oct 2017, USD 699,979
Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, USA, Venezuela

Results Outreach Investigators Students Executive Summary


This is a summary of the most salient project results. For further information see the project website, project papers or contact the investigators directly.

The team has begun to acquire results from 40 sampling cruises funded from non-IAI sources, that collected chlorophyll A, phaeopigment, nutrients, phytoplankton taxonomy, and pigment composition to investigate the state and trend of changes in phytoplankton populations and ocean environment. On Argentine samples, ocean acidification (the carbonate system) is also being studied.

Large scale and regional physical ocean models were coupled with bio-geochemical models for the 40-year period of 1968-2007, initialized with in situ historical data. Phytoplankton, zooplankton, detritus, C, O2 and main nutrients (N, P, Si, Fe) were modeled assuming a constant Redfield ratio and phytoplankton growth limitation by nutrient availability. Regional model testing for net primary productivity shows that data are too limited to constrain model parameters. That makes additional ground truthing essential to reconcile modeled chlorophyll profiles with observations.

Potential fish productivity in the South Brazil Bight was calculated using satellite estimates of primary production and an idealized food chain of 2.8 links with a mean trophic efficiency of 10%. At a mean primary production of 188 g C/m2/yr, the fish yield was 30-60 times larger than the FAO reported catch from 1991-2000 (0.08 MT). The fishery resources in the Bight, therefore, appear to be food-limited.

The natural science part aims at developing methodologies for interdisciplinary analysis, but the socio-economical team was only established in 2015, and is now developing questions on the socioeconomic effects of phytoplankton ecosystem services, how decision-makers perceive these links, and how they react. Literature studies on the economics of fisheries and on ocean governance. Stakeholders are classified as those who 1) affect the ecosystem services 2) are directly affected by the variation in ES, or 3) are managing the relationship between ES and human use.


Do you know what this is? IAI researcher Vivian Lutz initiated an awareness campaign about the benefits of phytoplankton. She and Hugo Benavides, a colleague from her institution –INIDEP, National Institute for Fisheries Research and Development installed a poster at the beach during the austral summer holiday season.

Analysis of the carbonate system in the context of ocean acidification in the EPEA time series (Argentine Sea)

Director: Vivian Lutz
Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Desarrollo Pesquero (INIDEP), Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas y Costeras (IIMYC), Mar del Plata.

Ocean acidification driven by increased concentrations of anthropogenic CO2 affects ocean ecosystem services, and damages the physiology of phytoplankton and of other organisms in higher trophic levels (e.g., bivalves), which in turn impacts fishing species. El objetivo del proyecto es evaluar el impacto de la AO (total alcalinity, dissolved inorganic carbon, pH and partial carbon dioxide pressure) at the ‘Permanent Station for Environmental Studies (EPEA)’, a coastal station located 50 km off the coast of Mar del Plata. Monitoring of ocean acidification in the Argentine Sea is necessary to inform policy and decisions towards the conservation of ocean ecosystem services. In addition, the information generated will be integrated -through the CRN 3094 project- with the in situ and remote sensing observations by the Antares network in nine countries in the Americas, aimed at detecting long-term changes in marine ecosystems.

Project investigators

Milton Kampel (
Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais, Brazil

Vivian Lutz (
CONICET, Argentina

Martina G. Chidiak (
Facultad de Economía, UBA, Argentina

Alexander Turra (
Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil

Paulo Sinisgalli (
Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil

Pedro Roberto Jacobi (
Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil

Eduardo Santamaría-del Ángel (
Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, Mexico

Roberto Frouin (
University of California – Scripps Institution of Oceanography, USA

Yrene M. Astor (
Fundación la Salle de Ciencias Naturales Campus Margarita (EDIMAR), Venezuela

Rubén Mario Negri (
INIDEP, Argentina

Rubén Escribano (
Universidad de Concepción, Chile

Mary Luz Cañón-Paez (
Centro de Investigaciones Oceanográficas e Hidrográficas del Caribe, Colombia

Jesús Ledesma (
Instituto del Mar del Perú, Peru

Sergio Cerdeira-Estrada (
Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad (CONABIO), Mexico

Roberto Millán Núñez (
Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, Mexico

Luis Escudero Herrera (
Instituto del Mar del Perú, Peru

Gustavo Tous (
Centro de Investigaciones Oceanográficas e Hidrográficas del Caribe, Colombia

Maria Elena Tapia (
Instituto Oceanográfico de la Armada, Ecuador

Christian Manuel Naranjo Padilla (
Instituto Oceanográfico de la Armada, Ecuador.


Bruno Meirelles de Oliveira, Master, Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil
Caroline Cichoski, Post Doctorate, Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil
Gabriel Moiano Cesar, Master, INPE, Brazil
Isabela Sanchez Vargas, Master, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina
Iuri Tavares Amazonas, Master, Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil
Joao Felipe C. dos Santos, Master, INPE, Brazil
Lucas Barbedo de Freitas, Master, INPE, Brazil
Maria Cecilia Filipello, Master, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina
Pablo Ricardo Belosevich Sosa, Master, Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil
Wander Glayson Ferreira, Undergraduate, INPE, Brazil.

Executive Summary

Marine ecosystem services (ES) such as fisheries’ support and carbon sequestration undeniably contribute to human well-being and they are being affected by changes in the climate system. Human activities influence climate through the use of fossil fuels and reduce biodiversity by selectively extracting/exploiting species and drastically changing their habitats. Proper management of natural resource stocks and services and of human impacts on them is essential to promote human well-being. Defining proper management strategies requires monitoring the changes that are occurring in the environment and their impact on society. The Group of Earth Observations (GEO) coordinates international Earth observation programs, with the final goal of making the data easily available to decision makers. The ocean is still under-represented, however, even at this high inter-governmental level. Initiatives that have already been undertaken to protect natural ocean resources include the development of an ecosystem approach to fisheries management and the assessment of the state of health of the ocean.

More specifically, the ocean offers many key ecosystem services and thus it can be regarded as a “global common”. Among them, phytoplankton (microscopic autotrophic organisms) provide essential services categorized as: regulating -since their role fixating atmospheric CO2 and its eventual burial in deep waters represents a significant part of the global carbon cycle and hence influences climate trends- and supporting -since through the photosynthesis process and nutrient cycling they support goods and services used by humans (including 50% of the oxygen we breathe). Making the necessary observations to monitor the state of phytoplankton and the oceanographic environment is difficult and expensive; hence marine time-series studies are relatively rare.

The proposal is to integrate data on phytoplankton and oceanographic variables regulating their growth collected at eight time-series stations around Latin America (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico and Venezuela), which constitute the Antares network ( Historical in situ observations from each time-series station (starting in 1995 for the oldest and 2008 for the youngest) together with remote sensing information will be used to investigate the state and trend of changes in phytoplankton populations and the oceanographic environment. These studies will be complemented by modeling tasks aimed at understanding the functioning of the different local systems, including how they are connected at a regional scale. The Antares network integrates a variety of natural environments and socioeconomic conditions among the eight participating Latin American countries.

Thus, a multidisciplinary approach is proposed to understand the impact that changes in the ocean may have especially in the regulating and supporting ecosystem services provided by phytoplankton and to investigate the connection of these ES with the human populations in the coastal areas of the Antares sites (primary stakeholders). As to the method, a channel for dialogue and information sharing with stakeholders will be created from the outset in order to identify key questions and information gaps. In this context, a basic set of natural/socioeconomic vulnerability indicators and trends will be presented and discussed.

As a second step, the project will define new methodologies and develop a set of socioecological variables and indicators to assess the phytoplankton ES and, subsequently, of environmental health. In addition, specific case studies will be developed to analyze possible changes in the natural (local and regional biogeochemical models to obtain information on changes in phytoplankton) and socioeconomic effects (e.g., fisheries, carbon uptake) of the identified trends. A strategy for effective communication of the knowledge co-constructed during the project will be developed to facilitate dialogue and awareness-raising efforts with local decision makers as well as further outreach and research activities for the protection of these ocean ecosystem services for human well-being.