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Atlantic Ecosystem Assessment, Forecasting and Sustainability (AtlantECO)

Research ship in the Atlantic

Active project

Project start: June 2020  |  Project end: May 2024
Funder: EC Horizon 2020
Principal Investigator: Dr Andy Rees
Other participants from PML: Dr Giorgio Dall'Olmo, Dr Karen Tait

AtlantECO is working to understand the human impacts on the marine ecosystems and processes in the Atlantic. The main focus of the project is to determine the structure and function of Atlantic microbiome in the context of ocean circulation and presence of pollutants, to assess its role in driving the dynamics of Atlantic ecosystems at basin and regional scales.

This is key to improve predictions on future provision of ecosystem services and to work towards the establishment of a sustainable Blue Growth strategy for an All-Atlantic community.

To realise this vision, AtlantECO has four objectives which are to

  • Assess dynamics of Atlantic marine ecosystems, their ecosystem services provision and the interplay of both with socio-economic activities.
  • Increase knowledge and data on microbiomes, plastics and carbon fluxes that support ecosystems at basin scale using best practices and integrative sampling strategies, novel genomics, imaging and biogeochemical methods, bioinformatics and modelling approaches.
  • Assess and predict the cumulative impacts of multiple stressors on ecosystem status and dynamics and ecosystem services provision, identifying their drivers and role on tipping points, assessing their changes in recovery of ecosystem structures, functions and services, and developing models to predict future trajectories.
  • Deploy a systemic strategy to build capacity and transfer knowledge for a seamless engagement between science, industry, policy, and society.



The ambition of AtlantECO is to develop and apply a novel, unifying framework for providing knowledge-based resources to design policies, support decision making and engage with citizens to encourage responsible behaviour to manage the Atlantic system and protect its provision of ecosystem services.