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 team at the 2017 annual meeting, June 2017, Kiel, Germany. Photo: R. Priester

     Watch our BIO-C3 movie, out NOW!

     Check the project flyer and blogs!

       -Anna Törnroos, "Baltic Diversity Notes".

       -Riina Klais, "Data cruncher".

       -David Costalago, "The Baltic Seal".


June 2018: BONUS has cleared the BIO-C3 publishable project summary for distribution. This document summarizes highlights of the BIO-C3 project and is available here!

December 2017: 4 years of concerted Baltic biodiversity research coming to a close... the BIO-C3 end date 31 December 2017 is nearing, and we are embarking on our final project reporting run. Lots of exciting output yet to come, though, so do not count us out yet! ;)

November 2017: Publication of BIO-C3 scientific output is in full swing. Access the mounting number of peer-reviewed publications and newly published BIO-C3 reports under "BIO-C3 output" above or click here!

October 17-19 2017: The BONUS Symposium "Science delivery for sustainable use of the Baltic Sea living resources" in Tallinn, Estonia, co-organized by BONUS INSPIRE and BIO-C3, was by all measures a big success! In brief: 3 days filled with 72 oral and 34 poster presentations (programme click here), stimulating keynote lectures, stakeholder panel discussions including national representatives, ICES, HELCOM and the EU Commission, and many many scientific discussions and scientist-stakeholder interactions. See some impressions here!

Fall 2017: The BIO-C3 annual report 2016 was accepted by the BONUS secretariat - Find the publishable summary here!

July 2017: New BIO-C3 movie out NOW! Check it out here, and also see additional clips by the BIO-C3 WP leaders on Indicators, Foodwebs, Genetic diversity, Modelling and Functional Biodiversity, now also online.

June 26-29 2017: The final BIO-C3 annual meeting assembled 30 participants from our 13 partner institutes in Kiel, Germany! On the agenda: a 1-day scientific mini-symposium open to the public showcasing BIO-C3 science, break-out groups to collaboratively advance scientific work, deliverables and synthesis paper ideas, updates on BIO-C3 initiatives and activites, and logistical planning for 2016-2017 BIO-C3 activities.

June 2017: Science and the public - BIO-C3 scientists facilitate the realization of the poetic movie "Hydrography" by filmmaker Gor Margaryan of the Muthesius School of Fine Arts, Germany, on experiences during a BIO-C3 research cruise (see link to the trailer here), and make major contributions to television documentaries on the global proliferation of jellyfish and invasive species.

May 8-10 2017: The concept paper "The Baltic Sea: a time machine for the future ocean" was advanced at the second BONUS sponsored writing workshop on this topic assembling 20 scientists from 8 BONUS projects under the lead of BIO-C3 in Jyllinge, Denmark. Publication planned for 2017.

April 13-29 and May 13-29 2017: BIO-C3 scientists under the lead of GEOMAR continue data and sample collections for the integrative Baltic ecosystem long-term data series on board of research vessel Alkor, facing everything from snow-storms to beautiful ummer conditions. Read the cruise blog!

Summer/Fall 2016: "Bringing hands-on science to the classroom/to the lecture hall": BONUS BIO-C3 activities under this motto continued with the high school teacher training workshop "Biodiversity in the Baltic realm - function, services, and anthropogenic threats" and graduate student summer school "Modeling Biodiversity for Sustainable Use of Baltic Sea Living Resources"! Read more about our training events here!

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