Biodiversity of Freshwater Ecosystems


Biodiversity of Freshwater Ecosystems (BioFresh): Status, Trends, Pressures, and Conservation Priorities.

A four year project funded through the European Commission Seventh Framework Programme operating from 2010 to 2014

The overall objective of the BioFresh project is to improve capacity to protect and manage freshwater biodiversity in the face of ongoing changes to the global climate and socioeconomic conditions. It will achieve this by building a freshwater biodiversity information platform, to bring together and make publicly available, the vast amount of information currently scattered among a wide range of databases. Rather than the collection of new observations and measurements, BioFresh will use existing data to build predictive models of biodiversity change at local, European and global scales, in order to support a broad diversity of critical needs in freshwater biodiversity management and conservation.

Using data to research past and present impacts of multiple stressors, including their interactions, the project will significantly improve our ability to predict future responses of biodiversity and its services to changing pressures. Beyond the building of the information portal, this collaborative effort will bring together a diverse database which has the potential to deliver new insights to the benefit of freshwater biodiversity management and conservation, as well as raising awareness of its importance.

The project is a collaborative effort led by FORSCHUNGSVERBUND BERLIN E.V. with 19 international partner organisations. IUCN Species Programme is participating in this project as a partner. The project is divided into three tightly interacting Workblocks (WB1-3) and nine integrated Workpackages (WP0-8) on which different partners take the lead. WB1, the database workblock, includes WPs1-3. WB2, the science workblock, includes WPs4-6, while WB3, including WPs7-8, is concerned with policy and outreach activities. IUCN Species is leading on WP7 which will inform conservation planning for freshwater biodiversity through the provision of baseline data of the status and distribution of freshwater species as a basis for long-term monitoring and identification of important sites of freshwater biodiversity. IUCN Species will also evaluate the efficacy of existing Protected Areas for freshwater biodiversity and develop scenarios for future protected area networks.

Ultimately, the datasets, together with geospatial visualisation tools and predictive models, will be made freely accessible through the web portal forming a hub of global information for all stakeholders in freshwater biodiversity.

To know more about this project please click HERE.


The BioFresh BioMatrix

The BioFresh BioMatrix holds contemporary distributions of freshwater species mapped to the latest catchment layer; HydroBASINS.

The BioMatrix is a data repository of contemporary distributions of freshwater biodiversity created by the BioFresh project, largely drawn from species range maps, a range of environmental variables, species trait data and IUCN Red List TM species assessments, and mapped to the latest catchment layer; HydroBASINS. The BioMatrix is a "living" repository for data that is actively updated to ensure that knowledge on freshwater species available to the scientific and wider community is ever-expanding. Therefore, the addition of datasets to the BioMatrix is an ongoing process and updated releases of the BioMatrix will continue beyond March 28th 2013, as and when new components are added. A second public release of the BioMatrix is scheduled for the end of July 2013. IUCN will continue to host, maintain and update the database beyond the currently funded period of the BioFresh project.

Currently the BioMatrix contains data for a range of taxonomic groups at the European and global scales and has been split into key taxonomic groups to enable easy access for different user groups. Each species distribution is mapped to sub-catchments using the HydroBASINS global catchment layer. HydroBASIN catchments are available at twelve spatial resolutions and the species distributions have been mapped to either HydroBASIN level 8 or level 10 (depending on suitability for a given species). Mapping freshwater species distributions to freshwater catchments is necessary as catchments are the management unit for freshwater species and allow for the improvement of spatially-explicit scientific knowledge and conservation planning decisions. For instance, patterns of species richness and diversity can be understood at the catchment scale which in turn can be used to identify Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs).

The first public release of the BioMatrix data took place on March 28th 2013 and made available the distributions of 680 species of European mollusc, 530 species of European fishes, 139 European Odonata, 355 Aquatic plant species, 505 global crayfish species and 142 global freshwater mammal species. A user guide, including species lists, is available in the document ‘BioFresh BioMatrix Manual’.

Enviromental data and further species traits and spatial resolutions will augment the BioMatrix in future releases. Currently trait metadata is referenced from

Data are provided in text format to facilitate download. If you require the HydroBASINS shapefiles, email us with your request and intended use of the species data at


Biomatrix Distribution Data Download Biomatrix Trait Data Download
  • Biofresh is funded by the European Union 7th Framework Programme.

    Biofresh is funded by the European Union 7th Framework Programme.

    Photo: EU FP7

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  • Biofresh Water Lives symposium 2014

    Biofresh Water Lives symposium 2014

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