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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. GloBioTrends project website can be accessed here.

Causes and consequences of environmental change in northern drainage basins

Environmental change threatens to alter biodiversity, ecosystem functions and ecosystems services at different scales, and this progress is particularly rapid in the high-latitude regions of the world. These boreal and Arctic regions support a wide variety of catchments draining different climates, geologies, soils and landforms. Such underlying abiotic heterogeneity provides diverse possibilities for the biota to fill various ecological niches. Environmental conditions in northern catchments have been modified by anthropogenic activities, such as land-use alteration, damming, hydromorphological changes, invasive species and eutrophication to name a few major ongoing threats. These threats are jeopardizing microbes, plants, invertebrates and vertebrates dwelling in aquatic, riparian and terrestrial ecosystems in high-latitude catchments, 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, hindering deciphering clear long-term changes from short-term fluctuations. 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, ranging from local site-level measurements and biological sampling to catchment analysis and remote sensing of environmental change. This approach also necessitates extensive collaboration both with experts of different scientific fields and from different high-latitude regions. In combination, this project aims at providing novel solutions for biodiversity conservation and management of ecosystem services offered by boreal and Arctic ecosystems, such as has been proposed in our recent reviews of lakes and rivers in northern drainage basins.

A book project on environmental change

Much of my time nowadays goes to thinking of and researching for a book project. The working title of the book is settled, but I will not reveal the title here yet. Being my first book, writing will take some time and requires structuring things in mind before writing them down in the final format. 

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