Ben Collen talks to Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution
13 March 2014
Dr Ben Collen was interviewed earlier this month to discuss the Global Biodiversity Atlas, a resource that provides information on freshwater across the globe.
The full interview is listed below:
New atlas reveals freshwater biodiversity worldwide
The Global Freshwater Biodiversity Atlas (www.freshwaterbiodiversity.eu), launched at the end of January 2014, is the culmination of years of work by BioFresh, a pan-European collaboration between 12 EU research institutes, backed by an impressive list of leading international conservation organizations. The Atlas offers easily navigable maps of all freshwater habitats across the globe and will be continuously updated as new information becomes available.Kathryn Senior
Thierry Oberdorff (Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France), an Atlas co-editor, stresses that the public availability of synthetic biodiversity data is essential to biodiversity and ecological research, natural resource management, and decision making. “The present Atlas was constructed to this end and, by being linked to a source data portal, should be a powerful tool for managing freshwater diversity worldwide”, he says.
Ben Collen (Centre for Biodiversity & Environment Research, University College London, UK) believes that the new resource fills a critical gap in biodiversity information. “Gathering a mechanistic understanding of how drivers of change affect biodiversity, particularly in freshwater systems that benefit humans, should provide the information we need to protect key components of freshwater ecosystems”, he comments. Scott Bridgham, Professor and Director of the Environmental Science Institute at the University of Oregon (Eugene, OR), agrees, noting that the Atlas is a great example of what modern technology can bring to global conservation. “While still in an early stage of development in terms of content, the Atlas will provide an invaluable open-access resource for scientists and resource managers to share visualizations of their spatial data with a broad community of users.”
Oberdorff reports that the Atlas will increase its coverage in the near future, and its dynamic nature is already stimulating ideas. Collen notes several lines of evidence that suggest we should expect patterns of key metrics of biodiversity – such as species richness, threatened species richness, and endemism – to vary among different groups of freshwater species. “One of the obvious next steps is to use the Atlas to ask questions about how those patterns are likely to change under future scenarios of different land use, climate, and policy implementation”, he suggests.