Work package 3

Work package 3

Work package 3: The Anthropocene Pontocaspian Biodiversity crisis  

The general goal of this work package is to assess the contribution of anthropogenic drivers to the current Ponto-caspian biodiversity crisis and to model future biodiversity changes under different Global Change scenarios. These data, in turn, will provide baseline information for subsequent actions aiming at mitigating the ongoing biodiversity crisis.

This WP specifically aims to (1) quantify the relative contribution of natural and anthropogenic drivers on the turnover of key Pontocaspian taxa with a high temporal resolution and to quantify the general role of humans in the current biodiversity crisis, (2) quantify faunal shifts in endemic species and extinction events due to specific anthropogenic drivers such as the introduction of invasive species, habitat destruction, and water pollution, (3) empirically model the effects of natural and non-natural drivers on community compositions and to use the model to predict community changes both back in time and into the future, and (4) integrate all data from this WP together with relevant data from WPs 1 and 2 into the > Pontocaspian Information System (PC-IS) as the main data link between the WPs and as a tool to permit an effective public engagement strategy.

In less than 50 years the faunas in the Caspian Sea have drastically changed as a result of invasive species. Tens of endemic species may have gone extinct as a result.

Main outcomes for WP3 will be a > Pontocaspian Taxonomic information system (PC-Tax), underlying the PC-IS,  and the > PC-IS itself, risk models for the current and future biodiversity crises, and recommendations on the conservation status of a variety of Pontocaspian taxa and potential effective conservation strategies.

Work package 3 is lead by > Prof. Thomas Wilke  from the Justus Liebig University, Giessen.

The five projects in work page 3 are tightly interlinked. Projects C1 (Grigori Antipa Museum, Bucharest), C2 (GiMaRIS, Leiden), C4 (Giessen University) and C5 (Brunel University, London) study the status and dynamics of living biota (endemics and invasive species) and assess directly the current state of decline as well as temporal dynamics of selected Pontocaspian biota. Using historical and current distribution and ecological data, project C4 will model community change in the past and make predictions for the future. All data from this and other WPs will be managed through the experimental > PC-IS of project C3 (Naturalis, Leiden) that will form the central tool for data exchange within and beyond the project and the core for an effective outreach programme.