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Projects led

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










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 about 50 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 directly funded by the project: Jani Heino, Jorge García-Girón, Henna Snåre, Kimmo Tolonen and Annika Vilmi. GloBioTrends project website can be accessed here.

A synthesis of causes and consequences of environmental change in high-latitude catchments: biological diversity, environmental variation and human well-being





















Global change threatens to alter biodiversity, ecosystem functions and ecosystems services at different scales (Heino et al. 2021), and this progress is particularly rapid in the high-latitude regions of the world (Heino et al. 2020). These boreal and Arctic regions support a wide variety of catchments draining various climates, geologies, soils and landforms. Such underlying abiotic heterogeneity provides diverse possibilities for the biota to fill different ecological niches. Environmental conditions in northern catchments have been and are being modified by anthropogenic activities, such as land-use alteration, damming, hydromorphological changes, invasive species and eutrophication to name a few major threats. These threats are jeopardizing microbes, plants, invertebrates and vertebrates dwelling in aquatic, riparian and terrestrial ecosystems in high-latitude catchments (Tolkkinen et al. 2020), which has been noticed as range shifts, population declines and local extinctions of species. The details of these changes may easily go unnoticed because there is lack of consistent monitoring data across decades and longer time scales (Lindholm et al. 2021). The aim of this initiative is to help understanding the causes and consequences of these changes, as well as provide guidelines to manage and conserve these unique biotas and ecosystem services they provide for local people and beyond. This project views catchments from local habitat scales to views from beyond the Earth. We thus have a multi-scale perspective in space and time 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.

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. (2021) Lakes in the era of global change: moving beyond single-lake thinking in maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services. Biological Reviews 96: 89-106.


Heino, J., Culp, J., Erkinaro, J., Goedkoop, W., Lento, J., Ruhland, K. & Smol, J.P. (2020) 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. (2021) Temporal beta diversity of lake plants is determined by concomitant changes in environmental factors across decades. Journal of Ecology 109: 819-832.


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.


Projects collaborated

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


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.

Improved geodiversity information in assessing and conserving biodiversity (iGEOBIO)


In this project led by Dr. Janne Alahuhta, the effects of geodiversity (e.g., soil, landform and bedrock types, hydrology, and elevation) on temporal changes in biological communities and geodiversity-biodiversity relationships are being examined. The project has both basic and applied implications in nature conservation and environmental management. This project is funded by the Academy of Finland for a period from 2020 to 2024.

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

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 DRYvER 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.

Global freshwater biodiversity, biogeography and conservation (GLOWABIO)


Global biodiversity is declining rapidly, and freshwater organisms and habitats are among the most threatened. The project GLOWABIO applies cutting-edge global geospatial analyses focusing on (i) a new high-resolution habitat type delineation, (ii) mapping distribution patterns and assessing environmental correlates of aquatic insects globally and (iii) applying novel systematic conservation network analyses to highlight potential gaps in the protection of underrepresented habitat types and taxa across national boundaries. This project is led by Dr. Sami Domisch, and we are happy to collaborate with him and his research group during this important initiative.