Koli National Park, Finland (© S. Domisch) Koli National Park, Finland (© S. Domisch)

Global freshwater biodiversity, biogeography & conservation (GLOWABIO)

Leibniz Junior Research Group led by Sami Domisch

Global biodiversity is declining across ecosystems, and freshwater organisms and habitats are among the most threatened. While finding appropriate countermeasures, a key challenge is first to gain a comprehensive picture of the current status of freshwater biodiversity. Compared to the terrestrial and marine realms, freshwater biodiversity remains understudied in terms of its ecological significance and distinctiveness, resulting in a lack of effective conservation at regional to global scales.

The Leibniz Junior Research Group aims to fill this gap by applying cutting-edge global geospatial analyses focusing on: (i) a new habitat type delineation using the newly developed Hydrography90m dataset that delineates stream channels globally at 90m spatial resolution ; (ii) state-of-the-art machine learning models to map the diversity of aquatic insects, the most diverse freshwater animal group, based on the new EPTO database where we collated global occurrences of Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, Trichoptera and Odonata; and (iii) applying novel systematic conservation network analyses to highlight potential gaps in the protection of underrepresented habitat types and taxa across national boundaries. The combined application of these core elements at the global scale, yet at high spatial resolution, will allow ground-breaking, standardised and comparative analyses in spatial freshwater biodiversity science. Importantly, uncertainties inherent in the data and analyses will be quantified to ensure transparency and robustness of the results.

We use open-source geospatial tools and store all data layers and codes will be stored in public repositories to enable follow-up analyses by others. We have developed the R-package hydrographr which provides scalable and easy-to-use hydrographic data processing tools. The project will promote national and international synergies, and inform global initiatives such as IPBES, Future Earth, and Freshwater-BON, to improve our understanding of the current status of freshwater biodiversity.

The Leibniz Junior Research Group is co-funded by the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries in Berlin, Germany.