Blue Green Biodiversity Research Initiative

An Eawag-WSL collaboration focusing on Biodiversity at the interface of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.

Graphic: Blue-green habitats – hotspots of biodiversity

Aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems are closely interconnected and enrich each other. However, these hotspots of biodiversity are threatened by human-induced changes, such as climate change, urbanisation and intensive agriculture. The graphic illustrates how the habitats of water and land intertwine and influence each other, as well as the questions the BGB research initiative is investigating.

How is biodiversity changing?

Biodiversity is declining dramatically worldwide. BGB is investigating how species diversity is changing in space and time - both locally, for example, in the Thur catchment area in Switzerland, and also globally with the help of data archives and satellite data. The time periods studied range from a few decades to millions of years.

What influences species diversity?

Land use changes, such as intensified agriculture and urbanisation, climate change, the overexploitation of natural resources and invasive species alter habitats and threaten biodiversity. BGB investigates how these factors influence biodiversity.

How are terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems interconnected?

Ecosystems in water and on land are closely linked. For example, leaves that fall from trees into  water serve as food for microorganisms. These are eaten by predatory insect larvae that leave the water after their final larval stage. On land, these insects serve as particularly nutritious food for birds. BGB aims to study this networked biodiversity holistically.

How can we promote and protect biodiversity?

BGB aims to develop practical recommendations for praxis and policy to stop or at least reduce species loss as quickly as possible. How can habitats in residential areas be networked through blue-green infrastructure? Or, what does successful biodiversity policy look like?

Biodiversity is essential to human life and welfare. The loss of biodiversity is, next to climate change, one of the biggest challenges humanity is facing. Research and action to reverse and mitigate the loss of biodiversity and associated ecosystem functions and services are thus crucially needed. In order to tackle this scientifically and societally urgent topic, the ETH Board has funded a research initiative on Blue-Green Biodiversity (BGB), i.e. the biological diversity at the interface of water and on land. Its goal is to strengthen interdisciplinary biodiversity research within WSL and Eawag, but also within the whole ETH domain and beyond, to understand and respond to challenges associated to species loss and biodiversity change as quickly as possible.

Phase 1: BGB 2020

In 2020, a core set of questions and projects has been identified and projects will commence in August 2020. These projects aim to provide rapid results by focusing on the analysis of existing data to answer topical questions in basic and applied biodiversity science at the interface of aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity. The BGB 2020 call comprised 13 funded research projects to support post-doctoral fellows for one year.

Main objectives 2020

  • Community building, horizon scanning and priority setting to establish new collaborations and address timely questions
  • Analysis of existing data and modelling to obtain greater insight into similarities and inter-connections between aquatic and terrestrial systems
  • Outreach and translation to communicate findings to practitioners and the broader public

Funded BGB-projects for 2020

Project 1 The architecture of community structure, functional traits and trophic networks across blue-green ecosystems
Project lead: Prof. Dr. Florian Altermatt (Eawag) and Prof. Dr. Loïc Pellissier (WSL)
Postdoc: Hsi-Cheng Ho
Collaboration: Jakob Brodersen (Eawag), Martin Gossner (WSL), Catherine Graham (WSL), Ole Seehausen (Eawag), Niklaus Zimmermann (WSL)
Project 2 Blue-green infrastructure for blue-green lives: modelling use and colonization credit of an ecological infrastructure to inform evidence-based amphibian conservation
Project lead: Dr. Ariel Bergamini (WSL) and Prof. Dr. Christoph Vorburger (Eawag)
Postdoc: Helen Moor
Collaboration: Simon Egger (canton of Aargau), Rolf Holderegger (WSL), Benedikt Schmidt (info fauna karch & UZH)
Project 3 Analysing recent developments in abundance, biomass and species richness of aquatic and terrestrial insects in Switzerland
Project lead: Dr. Kurt Bollmann (WSL) and Dr. Nele Schuwirth (Eawag)
Postdoc: Friederike Gebert
Collaboration: Martin K. Obrist (WSL), Florian Altermatt (Eawag)
Project 4 Contrasting patterns and processes of biological invasions in blue versus green ecosystems
Project lead: Dr. Eckehard Brockerhoff (WSL) and Dr. Marco Baity-Jesi (Eawag)
Postdoc: Agnieszka Sendek
Collaboration: Florian Altermatt (Eawag), Martin Bader (WSL), Martin Gossner (WSL), Martin Obrist (WSL), Andrew Liebhold (US Forest Service / CULS), Hanno Seebens (Senckenberg Biodiv. & Climate Res.), Piet Spaak (Eawag), Christoph Vorburger (Eawag), Thomas Wohlgemuth (WSL)
Project 5 Testing the generality of biotic homogenization by human impact in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems
Project lead: Dr. Martin M. Gossner (WSL) and Prof. Dr. Florian Altermatt (Eawag)£
Postdoc: Mark Wong
Collaboration: Jakob Brodersen (Eawag), Catherine Graham (WSL), Heike Lischke (WSL), Marco Moretti (WSL), Loïc Pellissier (WSL), Ole Seehausen (Eawag), Thomas Wohlgemuth (WSL), Niklaus E. Zimmermann (WSL)
Project 6 Evaluating temporal community structure as a function of environmental variables acting at different scales
Project lead: Prof. Dr. Catherine Graham (WSL) and Dr. Blake Matthews (Eawag)
Postdoc: Shyamolina Ghosh
Collaboration: Martin Gossner (WSL), Heike Lischke (WSL), Anita Narwani (Eawag), Christian Rixen (WSL), Ole Seehausen (Eawag), Sarah R. Supp (Denison University), Thomas Wohlgemuth ( WSL), Niklaus E. Zimmermann (WSL)
Project 7 How has Swiss biodiversity policy been performing over the last 30 years?
Project lead: Prof. Dr. Felix Kienast (WSL) and Dr. Manuel Fischer (Eawag)
Postdoc: Ueli Reber
Collaboration: Rolf Grütter (WSL), Anna Hersperger (WSL), Karin Ingold (Eawag), Olga Koblet (Univ. Zürich), Ross Purves (Univ. Zürich)
Project 8 Predator coupling of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems: the importance of nutritional diversity of prey
Project lead: Dr. Blake Matthews (Eawag) and Prof. Dr. Catherine Graham (WSL)
Postdoc: Ryan Shipley
Collaboration: Jakob Brodersen (Eawag), Martin Gossner (WSL), Ryan Shipley (MPI-AB), Christine Weber (Eawag)
Project 9 Blue-green infrastructure for biodiversity enrichment in human-dominated landscapes
Project lead: Prof. Dr. Max Maurer (Eawag) and Dr. Janine Bolliger (WSL)
Postdoc: Giulia Donati
Collaboration: Peter Marcus Bach (Eawag), Achilleas Psomas (WSL)
Project 10 Warming-related community turnover in terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems
Project lead: Dr. Anita Narwani (Eawag) and Dr. Christian Rixen (WSL)
Postdoc: Imran Khaliq
Collaboration: Jakob Brodersen (Eawag), Martin Gossner (WSL), Catherine Graham (WSL), Blake Matthews (Eawag), Loïc Pellissier (WSL), Francesco Pomati (Eawag), Ole Seehausen (Eawag), Florian Zellweger (WSL), Niklaus E. Zimmermann (WSL)
Project 11 Global remotely sensed phenology: A unifying Essential Biodiversity Variable for assessing the linkage between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems
Project lead: Dr. Daniel Odermatt (Eawag) and Dr. Yann Vitasse (WSL)
Postdoc: Jelle Lever
Collaboration: Alexander Damm-Reiser (University of Zurich), Petra D’Odorico (WSL), Arthur Martin Gessler (WSL), Luis Gilarranz (Eawag), Christian Ginzler (WSL)
Project 12 Biodiversity assembly in blue and green ecosystems: speciation versus immigration
Project lead: Prof. Dr. Ole Seehausen (Eawag) and Prof. Dr. Niklaus E. Zimmermann (WSL)
Postdoc: Luiz Jardim de Queiroz
Collaboration: Florian Altermatt (Eawag), Jakob Brodersen (Eawag), Catherine Graham (WSL), Blake Matthews (Eawag), Loïc Pellissier (WSL), Lukas Rüber (NMBE)
Project 13

Assessing richness differences between blue and green systems by quantifying biodiversity turnover along global gradients
Project lead: Prof. Dr. Niklaus E. Zimmermann (WSL) and Prof. Dr. Ole Seehausen (Eawag)
Postdoc: Ian McFadden
Collaboration: Florian Altermatt (Eawag), Blake Matthews (Eawag), Martin Gossner (WSL), Catherine Graham (WSL), Nicolas Gruber (ETHZ), Martina Hobi (WSL), Loïc Pellissier (WSL), Meike Vogt (ETHZ), Tom Wohlgemuth (WSL)

Phase 2: BGB 2021–2024

In 2021 longer-term research projects will begin including new experiments, field studies and data collection. These projects will aim to further develop themes from BGB 2020, as well as to expand into new cutting-edge research and applied questions, for which data do not already exist.

Funded BGB-projects for 2021 - 2024

Blue: Research and Education projects with a PhD
Grey: Implementation projects

Project 1 Blue-green stormwater infrastructure meets biodiversity in the city (Benefit)
Project lead: Dr. Lauren Cook (Eawag) and Dr. Marco Moretti (WSL)
Co: João P. Leitão (Eawag), Florian Altermatt (Eawag), Nicole Bauer (WSL), Anna Hersperger (WSL)
Project 2 Food-webs across aquatic-terrestrial environments in forests in the face of climate change
Project lead: Prof. Dr. Martin Gossner (WSL) and Prof. Dr. Carsten Schubert (Eawag)
Collaboration: Marco Moretti (WSL), Marco Lehmann (WSL), Matthias Saurer (WSL), Catherine Graham (WSL), Loïc Pellissier (WSL), Florian Altermatt (Eawag), Jakob Brodersen (Eawag), Blake Matthews (Eawag), Anita Narwani (Eawag), Ole Seehausen (Eawag), Christoph Vorburger (Eawag), Andreas Bruder (SUPSI)
Project 3 Species interactions in beaver engineered habitats link land-water ecosystem processes
Project lead: PD Dr. Anita Risch (WSL) and  Dr. Francesco Pomati (Eawag)
Collaboration: Aline Frossard (WSL), Steffen Boch (WSL), Chris Robinson (Eawag), Christof Angst (Biberfachstelle CH), Thomas Kreienbühl (Ecqua), Silvan Minnig (umweltbildner.ch)
Project 4 Blue-Green Cyanobacteria: Diversity, Toxins and alpine Tourism
Project lead: Prof. Dr. Christoph Scheidegger (WSL) and Dr. Elisabeth Janssen (Eawag)
Collaboration: Sabine Fink (WSL)
Project 5 Assessing and designing blue-green conservation strategies for the 21st Century in Switzerland
Project lead: Prof. Dr. Niklaus Zimmerman (WSL) and Prof. Dr. Ole Seehausen (Eawag)
Collaboration: Florian Altermatt (Eawag), Jakob Brodersen (Eawag), Anita Narwani (Eawag), Blake Matthews (Eawag), Loïc Pellissier (WSL), Catherine Graham (WSL), Rolf Holderegger (WSL), Martin Gossner (WSL), Kurt Bollmann (WSL), Michael Nobis (WSL), Philipp Brun (WSL)
Project 6 The land-water-scape: Capacity building across the blue-green interface
Project lead: Florian Altermatt (Eawag) and Prof. Dr. Rolf Holderegger (WSL)
Collaboration: various scientists of BGB program
Project 7 Enhancing residents’ understanding of blue-green biodiversity through participatory interventions and social learning: A key for successful river restoration planning and implementation
Project lead: Dr. Matthias Buchecker (WSL) and Dr. Nadja Contzen (Eawag)
Collaboration: Janine Bolliger (WSL), Christopher Robinson (Eawag)
Project 8 BlueGreenNet - Social-ecological networks to enhance biodiversity in peri-urban regions
Project lead: Dr. Manuel Fischer (Eawag) and PD Dr. Janine Bolliger (WSL)
Collaboration: Peter Bach (Eawag), Adrienne Grêt-Regamey (ETH), Sabine Hoffmann (Eawag), Achilleas Psomas (WSL)

List of BGB associated projects

Global analysis of the phenology of supply and demand for n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in consumer diets and its relationship to consumer fitness
Project lead: Blake Matthews, Daniel Odermatt, and J. Ryan Shipley (Eawag)
Duration: 01.09.2021 - 30.08.2022
Collaborators:
Luis J. Gilarranz (Eawag), Cornelia Twining (Eawag), Jelle Lever (WSL), Catherine Graham (WSL) and Yann Vitasse (WSL)
Funding body: Eawag

Living Lab Bern: Establishing a pre-urbanisation baseline
Project lead: Max Maurer (Eawag)
Co-Pl: Lauren Cook, Peter M Bach, João Leitão (Eawag)
Duration: 09.2021 - 09.2022
Collaborators:
Marco Moretti, Janine Bolliger, Anna Hersperger, Matthias Buchecker (WSL), Nadja Contzen, Manuel Fischer (Eawag), Stephanos Anderski, Frank Marti, Judith Dobmann (Stadt Bern)
Funding body: Eawag

Biodiversity assembly in blue and green ecosystems: speciation versus immigration
Project lead: Ole Seehausen (Eawag)
Co-Pl: Niklaus Zimmermann (WSL)
Postdoc: Luiz Jardim de Queiroz
Duration: 01.09.2021 – 31.06.2022
Collaborators:
Carmela Dönz, Soraya Villalba, Roman Alther, Špela Borko, Ian R. McFadden, Thomas Schmitt, Florian Altermatt, Jakob Brodersen, Martin Gossner, Catherine Graham, Blake Matthews, Loïc Pellissier, Lukas Rüber
Funding body: Eawag

BIOMONDO - Towards Earth Observation supported monitoring of freshwater biodiversity
Project lead: Petra Philipson, coordinator (Brockmann Geomatics)
Postdoc: Jelle Lever
Duration: 2021-2023
Collaborators:
Daniel Odermatt (Eawag), Consortium of Brockmann Geomatics, Brockmann Consult, Eawag, PBL, and Deltares
Funding body: European Space Agency

Seasonal changes and recovery from extreme climatic events as indicators of ecosystem stability and impending regime shifts
Project lead: Jelle Lever (WSL)
Co-Pl: Yann Vitasse & Arthur Gessler (WSL)
Duration: 2021-2022
Funding body: SwissForestLab

Blue Green Biodiversity
A research initiative of Eawag & WSL

   

Contacts

Co-Leaders of the research initiative

   Prof. Dr. Catherine    Graham
   WSL
   Tel. +41 44 739 23 61

Media enquiries

Bärbel Zierl, Communication Eawag
Lisa Bose, Communication WSL