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 a newly developed, global hydrography at very high spatial resolution (90m); (ii) state-of-the-art Bayesian models to map freshwater biodiversity based on an extensive global dataset compiled over the past years on the occurrence of aquatic insects, the most diverse freshwater animal group; 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.

Key aspects in terms of feasibility and an open science strategy are: (i) all required data are already available, (ii) all analyses will be performed by using open-source geospatial tools, and (iii) all data layers and codes will be stored in public repositories to enable follow-up analyses by others. 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.