BIOFRESH – Biodiversity of Freshwater Ecosystems: Status, Trends, Pressures, and Conservation Priorities


BIOFRESH – Biodiversity of Freshwater Ecosystems: Status, Trends, Pressures, and Conservation Priorities

BioFresh is an EU-funded international project that aims to build a global information platform for scientists and ecosystem managers with access to all available databases describing the distribution, status and trends of global freshwater biodiversity.

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BioFresh will build a freshwater biodiversity information platform to bring together, and make publicly available, the vast amount of information on freshwater biodiversity currently scattered among a wide range of databases. A major challenge is to complement the existing databases on freshwater biodiversity and distribution patterns, along with strict quality controls, to consent the continuous integration of new data.Within BioFresh, these data will be linked with geographical and socio-economic information. By developing just such a universally accessible information platform, BioFresh will foster our understanding of present freshwater biodiversity and changes expected for the future.

BioFresh will use existing data to build predictive models of biodiversity change in order to support a broad diversity of critical needs in freshwater biodiversity management and conservation. Combining the construction of the portal with scientific research ensures an optimised product for use. Ultimately, the interoperable datasets, together with geospatial visualisation tools and predictive models, will be made freely accessible through the web portal, forming the kernel of an unprecedented global information tool to all decision makers, stakeholders and users in freshwater biodiversity.


Freshwater biodiversity

Did you know?
Only 1% of the earth´s surface is covered with freshwaters but they are habitat for over 10% of all animals and over 35% of all vertebrates. The silent freshwater biodiversity crisis

No other major component of global biodiversity declines so fast and massively as freshwater species and ecosystems. In the 30 years between 1970 and 2000, populations of more than 300 selected freshwater species declined by ~55% while those of terrestrial and marine systems each declined by ~32%. Given the incomplete and fragmentary nature of our taxonomic knowledge of freshwater faunas and floras, current estimates of freshwater biodiversity and its decrease have to be considered as massively underestimated. Despite their pivotal ecological and economic importance, freshwater ecosystems have not been of primary concern in policy-making.

Freshwater biodiversity is the over-riding conservation priority during the International Decade for Action – "Water for Life", 2005 to 2015 (see right column for more information).

BioFresh aims to provide data, scientific progress and models that can be used to develop clear policy and management recommendations for freshwater conservation strategies.

Putting the pieces together

Scientists and water managers have collected vast amounts of data on freshwater biodiversity. Nonetheless it is often impossible to be certain of the geographic range of a species. Why is this? The existing data from all of these studies are widely dispersed, gathered in locally-managed databases, many of which are not publicly available. In summary, the pieces of the global freshwater biodiversity puzzle are scattered, and it is difficult even to find them. What a story they could they tell if all of the pieces were combined and easily accessible to scientists, policy makers and planners?

Such an integrated and accessible dataset will be used to improve and establish effective plans for conservation and for a better understanding of the services provided by aquatic ecosystems.

BioFresh will improve the capacity to protect and manage freshwater biodiversity

  • by building an information platform as a gateway for scientific research on freshwater biodiversity.
  • by raising awareness of the importance of freshwater biodiversity and its role in providing ecosystem services.
  • by predicting the future responses of freshwater biodiversity to multiple stressors in the face of global change.


Forschungsverbund Berlin e. V. (Germany)
FVB.IGB; RBINS, Belgium; Universität für Bodenkultur Wien, BOKU, Austria; WorldFish Center (formerly ICLARM), Malaysia; FIN, FishBase Information and Research Group, Inc.; Institute de Recherche pour le Développement IRD, France; UDE, Germany; The International Union for Conservation of Nature, IUCN, Freshwater Biodiversity Unit, UK office, Cambridge; Oxford University, UOXF.AC, UK; Universitat de Barcelona, UB, Spain; Helmholtz Zentrum für Umweltforschung, UFZ, Germany; University College London, UCL, UK; Université Claude Bernard - Lyon 1, UCBL, France; Université Paul Sabatier - Toulouse 3, UPS, France; Ecologic Institute: An International Think Tank for Environment and Policy (ECOLOGIC), Germany; Commission of the European Communities - Directorate General Joint Research Centre, EC-JRC, Italy; University of Debrecen, UD, Hungary; Naturhistoriska riksmuseet, NRM, Sweden
Project start year: 2009
Project end year: 2014

This project has received funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological
development and demonstration under grant agreement no 603218.

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