Global taxonomic, functional and phylogenetic diversity of stream macroinvertebrate communities: unravelling spatial trends, ecological determinants and anthropogenic threats


Anthropogenic activities threaten biodiversity at global, regional and local scales. Addressing this situation requires knowledge of the main mechanisms underlying biodiversity patterns. While the threats facing large, charismatic organisms are relatively well-known, those facing small-sized organisms inhabiting freshwater ecosystems are poorly studied, especially at large scales and in terms of taxonomic, phylogenetic and functional facets of biodiversity. This scarcity of knowledge is largely due to the absence of an organized dataset on functional and phylogenetic information. This project (1) aims to increase understanding of functional and phylogenetic differences among stream macroinvertebrate faunas across the world, (2) examines variation in the responses of taxonomic, functional and phylogenetic biodiversity to natural and anthropogenic factors within distinct regions, and (3) predicts how environmental changes at global, regional and local scales affect stream macroinvertebrate biodiversity. These three aims will be achieved using standardized functional trait and phylogenetic datasets compiled during the project, as well as local biological and environmental data previously collected from 40 regions across the world. This project will also provide guidelines to policy makers and environmental managers to facilitate the conservation of stream biodiversity at different scales. This project will include collaboration with large numbers of researchers from across the world, as well as the training of students in a multi-disciplinary environment, integrating ecological, evolutionary, geographical and environmental sciences. The project is funded by the Academy of Finland between 2020 and 2024. Persons funded by the project: Jani Heino, Henna SnåreKimmo Tolonen, and a post doc.









Regoverning the existing hydropower system: integrating ecological, economic and societal aspects of sustainability


We are involved in this joint project of Finnish Environment Institute and Natural Resources Institute Finland on the ecological, societal, economic and legal consequences of river dams. We are mostly responsible for whole-community biodiversity and benthic macroinvertebrate analysis and assessment in this project. This project is funded by the Academy of Finland for a period from 2020 to 2024. Persons funded by this part of the project: Saija Koljonen, Jani Heino and a post doc.

Securing biodiversity, functional integrity and ecosystem services in drying river networks

Most river networks of the world have intermittent rivers and ephemeral streams. The trend is that many more river networks are becoming threatened by an increasing probability of drying, but predictions where and how such changes will affect biodiversity and ecosystems services are unclear. We are participating in a very timely European Union H2020 funded project where the focus is on biodiversity and ecosystem services in streams and rivers prone to recurring drying. The project is led by Dr. Thibault Datry. We are specifically contributing to WP2: 'Drying river networks and biodiversity'. The project is ongoing between 2020 and 2023. Persons funded by the project in Oulu: Heikki Mykrä, Jani Heino and Annika Vilmi.

































A synthesis of causes and consequences of environmental change in high-latitude catchments


Global change threatens to alter biodiversity, ecosystem functions and ecosystems services at different scales (Heino et al. 2020a), and this progress is particularly alarming and rapid in the high-latitude regions of the world (Heino et al. 2020b). These boreal and Arctic regions support a wide variety of catchments draining various geologies, soils and landforms. Such underlying abiotic heterogeneity provides diverse possibilities for the biota to fill different ecological niches. Environmental conditions in boreal and Arctic catchments have been and are being modified by anthropogenic activities, such as climate warming, hydrological changes, land-use alteration, damming, invasive species and eutrophication to name a few major threats. These threats are jeopardizing microbes, plants and animals dwelling in freshwater, riparian and terrestrial ecosystems in high-latitude catchments (Tolkkinen et al. 2020), which has been noticed as range shifts and local extinctions of species. The details of these changes may easily go unnoticed because there is lack of monitoring data across decades and longer time scales (Lindholm et al. 2020). The aim of this initiative is to help understanding the causes and consequences of these changes, as well as provide guidelines for environmental managers and policy makers to monitor and conserve these unique biotas and ecosystem services they provide (Cid et al. 2020).


The project considers catchments from local habitat scales to views from beyond the Earth. We thus have a multi-scale perspective and use a multi-methodological approach to understand environmental change. This approach also necessitates extensive collaboration both with experts of different scientific fields and from different high-latitude regions.

Our recent publications paving the way for this project:

Cid, N., Bonada, N., Heino, J., Cañedo-Argüelles, M., Crabot, J., Sarremejane, R., Soininen, J., Stubbington, R. & Datry, T. (2020) A metacommunity approach to improve biological assessments in highly dynamic freshwater ecosystems. BioScience 70: 427–438.

Heino, J., Alahuhta, J., Bini, L.M., Cai, Y., Heiskanen, A.-S., Hellsten, S., Kortelainen, P., Kotamäki, N., Tolonen, K.T., Vihervaara, P., Vilmi, A. & Angeler, D.G. (2020a) Lakes in the era of global change: moving beyond single-lake thinking in maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services. Biological Reviews, in press.

Heino, J., Culp, J., Erkinaro, J., Goedkoop, W., Lento, J., Ruhland, K. & Smol, J.P. (2020b) Abruptly and irreversibly changing Arctic freshwaters urgently require standardized monitoring. Journal of Applied Ecology 57: 1192-1198.

Lindholm, M., Alahuhta, J., Heino, J. & Toivonen, H. (2020) Temporal beta diversity of lake plants is determined by concomitant changes in environmental factors across decades. Journal of Ecology, in press.

Tolkkinen, M., Heino, J., Ahonen, H.K.A., Lehosmaa, K. & Mykrä, H. (2020) Streams and riparian forests depend on each other: a review with a special focus on microbes. Forest Ecology and Management 462: 117962.