The SAFRED project partners represent a broad selection of institutes engaged in freshwater research and have participated in numerous research projects dealing with freshwater environments (e.g. B-BLOOMS, BIOMAN, Pondscape, Manscape, Boyekole Ebale Congo 2010 expedition).
Operational Directorate Natural Environment, RBINS
The Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS) is a federal scientific institute. Its key mission includes fundamental research, scientific consulting, collection management, public dissemination and outreach.
Within the framework of the BioFresh project, RBINS was responsible for the construction of the Freshwater Biodiversity Data Portal and gained a rich experience in data mobilisation and integration in the freshwater community. It also has strong links to the Belgian GBIF node through the Belgian Biodiversity Platform.
Koen Martens is scientific coordinator of the project. Aaike De Wever is responsible for the day-to-day follow-up of the project and scientific data manager for the occurrence database. Michel Kapel is in charge of the IT support and developments related to FADA.
The research of the team of Luc De Meester involves biodiversity research, metacommunity ecology, evolutionary ecology, stress ecology and ecological genomics. While covering a broad range of approaches, the overall aim of the research of the team converges into understanding how biodiversity, genetic and community composition respond to environmental challenges, including human impact. Our research in aquatic ecology, biodiversity and nature conservation focuses on biodiversity studies and on the ecology and functioning of shallow lakes and pond ecosystems (e.g. Declerck et al. 2005, Ecology, 2006 Biological Conservation & 2007 Ecology; Van de Meutter et al. 2006 J. Appl. Ecol.; Louette et al. 2009 Restoration Ecology; Kosten et al. 2012 Global Change Biology). Our research on metacommunity ecology uses zooplankton (e.g. Cottenie et al., 2003, Ecology; Cottenie & De Meester, 2004, Ecology; and bacteria (e.g. Van der Gucht et al. 2007, PNAS) as model systems or involv es multiple organism groups (Verreydt et al. 2012 Ecology Letters ; De Bie et al. 2012 Ecology Letters). In the field of evolutionary ecology, we study local genetic adaptation to natural and anthropogenic stressors using experimental evolution (Van Doorslaer et al. 2009a Evolution & 2009b Global Change Biology; Jansen et al. 2011a Evolution & 2011b Funct. Ecol.) and resurrection ecology (Cousyn et al., 2001, PNAS; Decaestecker et al. 2007 Nature; Pauwels et al. 2007 Am. Nat.). Our research in stress ecology focuses on multi-trait analyses and the influence of combined stressors, using the water flea Daphnia as a model system (e.g. pollution, food stress, predators and parasites: Coors & De Meester, 2008 J. Appl. Ecol.; Pauwels et al. 2010 Funct. Ecol.; Jansen et al. 2011 Evolution). Finally, we integrate ecological and evolutionary approaches in our analysis of eco-evolutionary dynamics, where we focus on evolving metacommunities (Urban et al. 2008 Trends Ecology Evolution; Urban & De Meester, 2010 Proc Roy Soc B) and its applications to climate change (De Meester et al. 2011 Integr. Comp. Biol.; Urban et al. 2011 Evol. Appl.).
Protistology and Aquatic Ecology, UGent
The research group Protistology and Aquatic Ecology of the Department of Biology at Ghent University studies the biology and biodiversity of protists and their role in freshwater and marine ecosystem functioning within the context of global change. A particular objective of our work is to link the current nature and behaviour of aquatic ecosystems to their evolutionary history and the response of their biota to past and future environmental and climate change. The laboratory has a long-standing expertise in the diversity, macroecology and biogeography of several protist groups, in particular diatoms. Increasingly, ecophysiological, molecular and genetic studies of laboratory cultures, and microcosmos experiments complement field-based approaches. An emerging strong focus of the group is to identify physiological and biochemical traits underlying local adaptation, species interactions and resilience to stress. Currently, several members of the group are studying population genetics and local adaptation of microalgae within the context of natural and anthropogenic stressors. The group is also using metagenomic and transcriptomic surveys of modern microbial community composition and dynamics to study the adaptation and genetic make-up of key functional groups in aquatic ecosystems.
University of Liège
The research group on cyanobacteria at the Centre for Protein Engineering is focusing on the study of the diversity, evolution and taxonomy of cyanobacteria using a multi-facet approach. Since 2000, it has been involved in the study of the diversity of planktonic cyanobacteria, in relation to their potential to form toxic proliferations in freshwater bodies. A. Wilmotte has been coordinator of the MIDI-CHIP project in the European FP5 Programme Environment and Climate. She was coordinator of the BELSPO project B-BLOOMS (2003-6) and partner of B-BLOOMS2 (2006-10). She is Belgian delegate to the CYANOCOST Action. The laboratory holds a culture collection of cyanobacteria (BCCM/ULC collection) that includes planktonic strains.
Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO)
The Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO) is a scientific institute of the Flemish Community. The official tasks attributed to INBO are mainly applied scientific research activities in relation to forestry, game management, freshwater fishery, nature management and conservation policy. INBO is commissioned to report on the state of forests and nature in Flanders. In this respect a large set of indicators, in accordance with European and CBD strategies was developed and intensive monitoring programmes of species and communities are established. Furthermore the institute participates in the forest monitoring under ICP Forests and hosts the Forest Soil Co-ordinating Centre (FSCC). Finally, methods have been developed for monitoring of the ecological and biological conditions under the European Water Framework Directive. Most of the other research and advisory activities are in the field of forestry, pest control, fisheries, applied ecology and conservation biology. For the latter, INBO has specialised in landscape ecology, distribution ecology, bio-indication, nature and sustainable management, eco-hydrology and integrated water management. The number of persons employed in the institute amounts to 250.
Since more than 30 years, the Research Unit in Environmental and Evolutionary Biology (URBE) of the University of Namur is investigating the biodiversity, structure and functioning of freshwater ecosystems in temperate and tropical areas, with a special emphasis on how the organisms, populations and communities adapt to a changing environment, including physical, chemical and biological modifications. The Research Unit has acquired an extended expertise in fish and invertebrates ecology (biodiversity, development of bioindicators, population dynamics, trophic chain), ecophysiology (effects of climate changes on reproduction and fitness of selected fish species used as sentinel species) and ecotoxicology (impacts of pollutants on fish physiology and immunology, development of biomarkers). The group is using different sampling and experimental methods combined with omics techniques, under in vitro, in vivo and in situ approaches, to better understand the mechanisms of action of environmental changes on the ecophysiology of different aquatic organisms. Recent studies also investigate the status of endangered fish species such as European eel or Atlantic salmon in different river basins of Wallonia.
The Belgian Biodiversity Platform is a Belgian Federal Science Policy Office (BelSPO) initiative that works in cooperation with Belgian federated authorities. As a science-policy interface, we provide neutral and scientifically credible information on all aspects of biodiversity science. The Belgian Biodiversity Platform is a multidisciplinary team composed of natural and social scientists, IT and communication experts that provides adequate services to scientists and policymakers. We offer services related to data publication, management and use, science networking, training and capacity building, as well as think-tank activities. We also serve as a major actor in national, european, international and intergovernmental biodiversity initiatives; we also host the GBIF National Focal Point.
The Institute of Hydrobiology and Ecosystem Management (IHG) is part of the Department Water, Atmosphere, Environment (WAU) at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU) in Vienna, Austria. BOKU-IHG consists of an interdisciplinary 50 persons team representing biologists, stream ecologists, landscape ecologists, river engineers, geographers and scientific data managers. The institute is engaged in various research fields including ecology and conservation of aquatic species, river restoration, environmental planning, environmental impact assessment, habitat modeling, river typology and classification, fisheries and aquaculture and aspects of ecological integrity. Experts of IHG are experienced in managing and coordinating large international multi-partner projects, designing monitoring programs, developing assessment methods, transferring results into measurements and analyzing socio-economic implications.
IHG successfully participated in numerous EU projects and has played a key role in the Europe-wide development of WFD compliant assessment systems for rivers and their implementation, particularly in the EU projects AQEM, STAR, FAME, EFI+ and WISER. IHG has experiences in assessing effects of global/climate change on freshwater ecosystems (Euro-limpacs, REFRESH) including effects of invasive species. IHG has developed competence in assessing multiple stressors (MARS), river management and restoration (REFORM, eight EU LIFE-Nature projects). Within the framework of the BioFresh project, IHG has developed an online metadatabase to collect information about all kind of freshwater related datasets (with focus on biodiversity) and gained rich experiences in data mobilisation processes. IHG has also established an automated system to publish these datasets in the newly founded Freshwater Metadata Journal (FMJ).
Involved scientist: Astrid Schmidt-Kloiber (PhD) is a hydrobiologist with focus on rivers, wetlands and the ecology and biodiversity of benthic invertebrates. She has a profound background in data management, data mobilisation, presentation and publishing. She established and maintains freshwaterecology.info, a Europe-wide trait database for macro invertebrates, fish, macrophytes, diatoms and phytoplankton. During the BioFresh project she was responsible for the design and implementation of the Freshwater Metadatabase to collect, manage and publish freshwater related dataset information. She has founded the Freshwater Metadata Journal to encourage the publishing of (meta)data and to support efforts of making scientific data publicly available. Additionally, she is founding member and editor of the Freshwater Information Platform, which aims at creating a single gateway for recent developments in freshwater research.