Biodiversity changes - 

causes, consequences and management implications BIO-C3


The importance of biodiversity for ecosystems at land has long been acknowledged. In contrast, its role for marine ecosystems has gained less research attention. The overarching aim of BIO-C3 is to address biodiversity changes, their causes, consequences and possible management implications for the Baltic Sea. BIO-C3, which is a BONUS - Science for a better future of the Baltic Seas region - project, equally funded by national and European means, has a life time of 4 years and a budget of 3.7 Mio EUR. Scientists from 7 European countries and 13 partner institutes are involved. Project coordinator is the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Germany, assisted by DTU Aqua, National Institute of Aquatic Resources, Technical University of Denmark.

Why is biodiversity important?

An estimated 130 animal and plant species go extinct every day. In 1992 the United Nations tried countering this process with the "Biodiversity Convention". It labeled biodiversity as worthy of preservation – at land as well as at sea. Biological variety should not only be preserved for ethical reasons: It also fulfils key ecosystem functions and provides ecosystem services. In the sea this includes healthy fish stocks, clear water without algal blooms but also the absorption of nutrients from agriculture.

Biodiversity and BIO-C3

To assess the role of biodiversity in marine ecosystems, BIO-C3 uses a natural laboratory: the Baltic Sea. The Baltic is perfectly suited since its species composition is very young, with current salt level persisting for only a few thousand years. It is also relatively species poor, and extinctions of residents or invasions of new species is therefore expected to have a more dramatic effect compared to species rich and presumably more stable ecosystems.

Moreover, human impacts on the Baltic ecosystem are larger than in most other sea regions, as this marginal sea has a large and densely populated watershed. A further BIO-C3 focus is to predict and assess future anthropogenic impacts such as fishing and eutrophication, as well as changes related to global (climate) change using a suite of models.

If talking about biological variety, it is important to consider genetic diversity as well, a largely neglected issue. A central question is whether organisms such as zooplankton and fish can cope or even adapt on contemporary time scales to changed environmental conditions anticipated under different global change scenarios.

To address these issues, we are able to exploit unique long term data sets available from the project partners, including on fish stocks, plankton and benthos organisms, and abiotic environmental conditions. Data series are extended through an intensive research cruise program equivalent to ~3 Mio. EURO in in-kind contributions, e.g., with the vessels RV ALKOR, Dana, and Baltica of our German, Danish and Polish partners, respectively. This work is complemented by extensive experimental, laboratory, and modeling approaches.

BIO-C3 aims to increase understanding of both temporal changes in biodiversity - on all levels from genetic diversity to ecosystem composition - and of the environmental and anthropogenic pressures driving this change. The ultimate goals is then to use understanding of what happened in the past to predict what will happen in the future, under different climate projections and management scenarios.

From science to politics

BIO-C3 wants to use the gained process understanding to design a management framework, which will ultimately allow testing management parameters; a helpful tool for politicians and stakeholders to evaluate the possible actions to maintain and improve the biodiversity status of the Baltic Sea for future generations.

BIO-C3 core team at the Kick-off meeting, March 2014, Charlottenlund, Denmark.

      Download project flyer and poster!

      Follow the BIO-C3 blogs!

       -Anna Törnroos, "Baltic Diversity Notes".

       -Riina Klais, "Data cruncher".

       -David Costalago, "The Baltic Seal".


April 20 2017: The Abstract submission deadline for our BONUS/ICES endorsed symposium "Science delivery for sustainable use of the Baltic Sea living resources" from 17-19 Oct 2017 in Tallinn, Estonia, organized by INSPIRE & BIO-C3 is coming up! Find oug more, register and submit your abstract here

Jan 13 2017: BIO-C3 PI Erik Bonsdorff (Åbo Akademi, Finland) was named finnish Professor of the Year 2017. Congratulations Erik!

Dec 6-9 2016: "The Baltic Sea: a time machine for the future ocean?" was the question addressed by a writing workshop assembling 20 interdisciplinary experts from 7 BONUS projects under the lead of BIO-C3 and supported by BONUS clustering funds in Noer, Germany. This initiative will be continued in 2017.


Oct 2016: The 2015 BIO-C3 annual report was cleared by the BONUS secretariat. Download the publishable summary or the full report!

Sept 9-10 2016: Under the motto "Bringing science to the classroom", the 2016 BONUS BIO-C3 high school teacher training workshop "Biodiversity in the Baltic realm - function, services, and anthropogenic threats" assembled BIO-C3 scientists and 25 teachers at Schloss Noer, Eckernförde Fjord, Germany! Learn more about this event here.

Aug 22-26 2016: The 2016 BONUS BIO-C3/INSPIRE/COCOA/BAMBI summer school "Modeling Biodiversity for Sustainable Use of Baltic Sea Living Resources" took place at the Søminnestationen, Holbæk, Denmark! Read more about this event here!

June 27-30 2016: The BIO-C3 annual meeting brought together 35 participants from our 13 partner institutes in Tallinn, Estonia! On the agenda: special workshops on invasive round goby and zooplankton, scientific highlight updates, break-out groups to collaboratively advance scientific work, and logistical planning for 2016-2017 BIO-C3 activities.

April 13-28 and May 13-29 2016: BIO-C3 scientists under the lead of GEOMAR continue data and sample collections for integrative Baltic ecosystem assessments on board of research vessel Alkor. Follow the cruise blog!

November 25 2015: The BONUS BIO-C3/BAMBI/INSPIRE invited guest column "Finding bridges between biodiversity research and ecosystem based management" is published in the December BONUS in brief newsletter!

September 24 2015: The science of the BONUS projects BIO-C3, INSPIRE and BAMBI was showcased during the highly attended all day theme session "From genes to ecosystems: spatial heterogeneity and temporal dynamics in the Baltic Sea" at the 2015 ICES ASC in Kopenhagen! See the BONUS news for more information.

More BONUS BIO-C3 activities? Access the archive here!