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European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet)

New EMODnet biology product: Phytoplankton alpha diversity in the greater Baltic Sea area

News article |
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Monitoring phytoplankton biodiversity is crucial for several reasons. Phytoplankton are important indicators of aquatic ecosystem health, as they form the base of the marine food web. Changes in phytoplankton biodiversity can signal changes in water quality, nutrient levels, and other environmental factors that affect aquatic organisms. Some species of phytoplankton also produce harmful toxins, making them important to human health.

The loss of biodiversity due to human activities is a growing threat to marine ecosystems and the services they provide. Biodiversity is directly related to the resilience of ecosystems to temporary disturbances, which is why environmental monitoring is vital in areas with conservation goals. Time series data of biodiversity can provide an indication of changes in community composition due to environmental stressors, such as climate change or eutrophication.

This product uses phytoplankton abundance data collected from fixed monitoring stations in the greater Baltic Sea on a monthly basis over the past two decades. The Shannon diversity index and species richness were calculated using the data, which were rarefied prior to alpha diversity calculations to reduce bias from uneven sampling effort. Biodiversity estimates are often biased by sampling effort, so this step was important to ensure comparable results over time.

For richness layer: https://emodnet.ec.europa.eu/geoviewer/?layers=12982:1:1,12767:1:1&basemap=ebwbl&active=12982&bounds=-7.898654939308644,48.29107253977273,38.275360244203206,68.89435151696429&filters=

For Shannon index layer: https://emodnet.ec.europa.eu/geoviewer/?layers=12981:1:1,12767:1:1&basemap=ebwbl&active=12981&bounds=-7.898654939308644,48.29107253977273,38.275360244203206,68.89435151696429&filters=

Github repository: https://github.com/EMODnet/EMODnet-Biology-phytoplankton-alpha-diversity