Built on existing regional and global networks, the Freshwater Biodiversity Observation Network (FWBON) will be an important mechanism to collect, standardize and distil freshwater biological and ecosystem data and information into products that will improve the observation, reporting and protection of freshwater biodiversity. It will enable the global scientific community to describe the relationships between biodiversity, organism abundance, system productivity, and ecosystem services.

About FW BON
Co-leads

Eren Turak
NSW Office of Environment and Heritage & The Australian Museum, Australia

Aaike De Wever
Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Belgium

Jeanne Nel
Vrije Universiteit, Netherlands & Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University South Africa
Key objectives

FW BON will promote the establishment of best practices for global freshwater biodiversity observations by:

  • improving the collection of harmonized data
  • developing data standards and methodologies for data management and dissemination
  • facilitating data sharing without compromising national concerns
  • integrating biodiversity information with physical and chemical data
  • producing products useful for sound management of rivers and their catchments, lakes, wetlands and subterranean aquatic ecosystems
  • better integration and harmonization of freshwater science and practice with terrestrial and coastal objectives.

FW BON seeks to integrate independent historical and current biological/ecological surveys and databases and fill gaps with new observations that incorporate: new remote sensing methods; novel molecular (eDNA) technologies; traditional biodiversity and environmental research tools; citizen
science and community based monitoring activities facilitated by advances in information and communication technologies; coordinated experiments and process studies. It will support modelling efforts aimed at estimating current, as well as future distribution and populations of freshwater biodiversity to support decision making by various stakeholders at various levels. FW BON will also develop the framework for integrating biodiversity with other essential environmental variables (Essential Water Variables) and databases by working with GEO Water, GEO Wetlands, GWOS, and other national and international groups.

Activities
1. Operationalising FW BON
Leads Eren Turak, Aaike De Wever, Jeanne Nel
EBV Class
Development approach Capacity Building, Assessments and Policy Support
Description
  1. Activate the group.
  2. Mobilise the FW BON membership around activities mapped to the tasks and deliverables of Working Groups and Thematic BONs within the GEO BON network and entities within GEO to ensure that freshwater ecosystems and biodiversity are integrated into their work. This includes:
    • BON Development WG: Integration of Freshwater considerations in BON Design; freshwater focussed tools for BON in a BOX, and integration of operational EBVs across freshwater, terrestrial and marine realms.
    • Ecosystem Function WG: Using conceptual/qualitative ecosystem process models to prioritise ecosystem function EBVs, and in particular determine how satellite remote sensing can be applied to make observations to support the measurement of these variables (e.g. NPP) in freshwater ecosystems.
    • Ecosystem Structure WG: collaborate on global measurements of change in ecosystem extent and fragmentation for fresh water ecosystems e.g. semi-automated tracking of satellite RS based tracking of wetland extent, and river fragmentation.
    • Species Populations WG: Identifying opportunities to link the extensive work currently being done by FW BON members on species distribution models for freshwater species.
    • MBON: Continue joint meetings and progress exploration of conceptual and practical overlaps in the application of EBVs in freshwater and marine environments.
    • GEO Wetlands: Input of biodiversity measures to GWOS, State of the Worlds Wetlands, and Global Wetland Outlook.
    • GEO Ecosystems: Support GEO Ecosystems (GI-14) activity to develop methods, data, maps, publications, and web-based apps for a new set of standardized, rigorous, and practical global ecological freshwater units (EFUs) as a synthesis of existing global freshwater ecosystems resources.
    • GEO Water: Contribute to the Development of Essential Water Variables (EWV) ensuring complementarity between EWVs and EBVs.
  3. Initiate the organisation of bimonthly or quarterly webinars, featuring work done by members.
  4. Establish partnerships with organisations involved in observations of freshwater biodiversity at broad spatial scales and those who require freshwater biodiversity information including GEOWetlands, GEO Water, GEO Ecosystems, GLEON, GBIF, Freshwater Information Platform (FIP),
    Ramsar, IUCN, CBD, IPBES, Satellite Based Wetland Observatory Service (SWOS) and the Sustainable Water Futures Project (SWFP). The main objective is to explore what steps can be taken to raise the profile of freshwater biodiversity among global communities of experts, practitioners, and policy-makers in both the biodiversity and water and wetland management fields.
  5. Disseminate FW BON news through ResearchGate and work out a joint dissemination strategies with the Freshwater Information Platform (FIP) for both reaching the freshwater community and raising the profile of freshwater biodiversity.
Timeline 2017 2018 2019 2020
Milestones and/or Deliverables
  • List FW BON partners
  • Recruit new members based on gaps in knowledge and geographic representation
  • Commence planning for the 1st global conference on freshwater biodiversity observations
  • Work out a joint dissemination strategy with FIP
  • Continue to recruit members to fill gaps
  • Map FW BON network and expertise
Hold a global conference Freshwater Biodiversity Observations Mobilise the FW BON network to collect and analyse biodiversity observations in freshwater ecosystems across the globe
Resources Most of the liaison will be done by skype, webinars and meetings on the back of other meetings. We require travel funding for one face-to-face meeting for coordination of freshwater information portals. Major funding will be needed to organise the Global Conference freshwater biodiversity observations at the end of 2019. These funds will be raised through initiatives planned together multiple partners
Link with other activities Links have been identified with most WGs and BONs (see description).
2. Connecting and mobilising people and resources towards comprehensive global freshwater biodiversity assessment by 2020
Lead Eren Turak
Team/Partners To be established
EBV Class
Development approach Capacity Building, Monitoring Protocol Design, Data Collection, Modelling, Assessments and Policy Support
Description This activity will provide knowledge for the compilation, integration and synthesis of available information about freshwater biodiversity observations across the globe and communicate this widely to the scientific community. The information will be included in compiling materials that support BON in a Box. Specifically:

  1. In each major region of the world, coordinate contributions from FW BON members towards global assessments of the condition of freshwater biodiversity, building on and complementing the IPBES led regional assessments and focussing on progress towards 2020 CBD targets and SDG goals and with explicit linkages to water stress, and resilience in the face of climate change.
  2. Link biodiversity observations to conservation actions and improvements in biodiversity at the system-level, by contributing to the development of ecosystem process models for different types of freshwater ecosystems and by providing evidence on the effectiveness of specific conservation actions.
  3. Coordinate the development of sampling manuals and protocols of freshwater biodiversity that would ensure the global harmonisation of species and assemblages-level data for freshwater macroinvertebrates and fish.
  4. Initiate and coordinate projects at local to global scales for connecting Indigenous and local knowledge and citizen science activities to global assessments of freshwater biodiversity.
  5. Develop summary materials for lay-people, decision- and policy-makers, based on the results of this activity.
Timeline 2017 2018 2019 2020
Milestones and/or Deliverables Steps are identified in each major region of the world (continents) to achieve a global assessment of the status of freshwater biodiversity by 2020.(complementing 2017 IPBES assessments). These will then be communicated in high profile publications during 2018
  • Comprehensive and detailed evidence of the effectiveness of conservation actions for conserving freshwater species and ecosystems (What works in conservation in collaboration with Bill Sutherland).
  • Freshwater invertebrate observation protocols for collecting globally harmonized data.
  • BON in a BOX tools for using Indigenous and Local knowledge to support observations of freshwater biodiversity.
  • Freshwater fish observation protocols for collecting globally harmonized data.
A global network of connected people that have the capacity to meaningfully assess the status of freshwater biodiversity in every Freshwater Ecoregion of the World (FEOW regions).
Resources Project funds needed for a global workshop on freshwater invertebrate sampling Project funds needed for a global workshop on freshwater invertebrate sampling
Link with other activities Support from and/or collaboration with Policy Task Force, National and Regional BONs, EBV Working Groups.
3. Inventorying global freshwater biodiversity for Freshwater Information Platform (FIP)
Lead Aaike De Wever
Team/Partners To be established
EBV Class
Development approach Capacity Building, Data Collection
Description This activity focuses on improving the availability of global freshwater biodiversity data. It will also contribute freshwater material for the BON in a Box toolkit. It will also establish a link to the Freshwater Information Platform (FIP) as a central hub for compiling and integrating species distribution data, exploring possibilities for exchanging and publishing data from freshwater observatories and monitoring institutes.

  1. Establish a FIP Advisory Board to decide on both scientific and technical direction of the Freshwater Information Platform developments involving representatives of among others GEO BON and GBIF
  2. Establish best practices for publishing and integrating data and information on freshwater biodiversity
  3. Collate material on freshwater biodiversity for integration in the BON in a Box toolkit, including globally standardised protocols for both data publication (previous point) and for monitoring community composition of e.g. fish, mammals, macroinvertebrates, algae, fungi (building on the outputs of FWB2)
  4. Actively follow-up on the implementation of the best practice guidelines for data publication and freshwater BON in a Box products following their promotion during the general meeting (planned under FWB1)
Timeline 2017 2018 2019 2020
Milestones and/or Deliverables FIP Advisory-GEO BON Board
  • Organise workshopon monitoring protocols
  • Best practice guidelines for publishing and integrating data and information on freshwater biodiversity
Produce freshwater specific material for the BON in a Box toolkit Encourage uptake/use of these guidelines
Resources Most of these activities can be done remotely or back-to-back to existing meetings. Although currently unfunded, the Freshwater Information Platform is looking into more sustainable funding options which could also cover specific activities under this FW BON task.
Link with other activities FWB1., FWB2. This activity will also be linked with and supported by the EBV Data TF.
4. Classifying freshwater ecosystems and assessing their associate services
Lead Jeanne Nel
Team/Partners To be established
EBV Class
Development approach Assessments and Policy Support
Description This activity focuses on using a hierarchical classification of freshwater ecosystems to derive a spatially consistent global product of ecological freshwater units. Such a product provides a vital resource for numerous processes, such as assessing and listing threatened ecosystems, ecosystem accounting, evaluating the capacity of different regions to supply ecosystem services. Activities include:

  1. Collaborating with the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Ecosystems group to develop a global hierarchical classification system of freshwater habitats.
  2. Incorporate into FW BON the GEO Ecosystems (GI-14) activity to develop methods, data, maps, publications, and web-based apps for a new set of standardized, rigorous, and practical global ecological freshwater units (EFUs) as a synthesis of existing global freshwater ecosystems resources. This effort would represent a collaboration between the U.S. Geological Survey and ESRI, advised by an expert steering committee comprised of FW BON members, and would produce open data resources intended to support global freshwater ecosystem distribution, condition, and valuation assessments. The EFUs would be developed in parallel to the development of a set of global ecological coastal units (ECUs), in association with Marine BON (MBON).
  3. Ensure that the Ecosystem Structure EBV Working Group of GEO BON is kept up to date with developments on ecosystem classification.
  4. Work with the Ecosystem Services Working Group of GEO BON to ensure infusion of new concepts and methodologies in the way freshwater related ecosystem services are assessed, valued and managed, particularly in relation to IPBES.
Timeline 2017 2018 2019 2020
Milestones and/or Deliverables Develop an idea for joint publication with the Ecosystem Services Working Group of GEO BON Meeting with USGS on protocol for developing ecological freshwater units IUCN publication on hierarchical classification system of freshwater habitats
  • Spatial global ecological freshwater units
  • Joint publication with the Ecosystem Services Working Group of GEO BON
Resources To be done at the PECS II workshop in Mexico in Nov 2017 Budget needed for inviting 10-15 experts To be done remotely To be done remotely
Link with other activities This activity will be linked with the Ecosystem Structure and Ecosystem Services WGs.
Data Products

FWBON has agreed to use the Freshwater Information Platform (FIP) for joint dissemination strategies aiming to reach the freshwater community and raise the profile of freshwater biodiversity. The FIP is a central hub for compiling and integrating species distribution data, exploring possibilities for exchanging and publishing data from freshwater observatories and monitoring institutes.

FWBON data products will be published through the FIP:

www.freshwaterplatform.eu

Documents & Publications

Documents and publications are available through Research Gate at:

https://www.researchgate.net/project/Freshwater-Biodiversity-Observation-Network-FW-BON

Partners

FWBON currently has 136 members from 52 countries.

Resources

Turak, E., Harrison, I., Dudgeon, D., Abell, R., Bush, A., Darwall, W., et al. (2016). Essential Biodiversity Variables for measuring change in global freshwater biodiversity. Biological Conservation, 1–9. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2016.09.005