PlankBioS: Present and future plankton biogeography and the link between community structure, marine ecosystem functioning and ecosystem service provisionInternal

Activity Overview

Type: Working group
Start Date: June 13, 2017
End Date: June 16, 2017
Venue: AZTI, San Sebastian, Spain
Contact: Astrid Cornils
E-mail: Astrid.Cornils [at]
Funding Call: EuroMarine 2016 Call for Proposals
Total Budget: €12,000
Funds Granted: €7,500

Manager(s): Guillem Chust
Co-organiser(s): Astrid Cornils, Sakina-Dorothée Ayata
Application/registration deadline: March 31, 2017


“PlankBioS” will bring together modelers with experimentalists and theoretical ecologists, in order to maximize synergies between the partners in their quest to address the following key issues in modern plankton research:

1)   What drives plankton/trait biogeography and diversity?

2)   What links ecosystem composition and ecosystem function?

3)   Which forms of diversity are most suitable for the quantification of ecosystem services?

4)   How vulnerable are marine ecosystems/ecosystem services to future climate change?


The proposed WG would embrace five main objectives:

1)   to consolidate the European community of plankton researchers, in order to generate a holistic picture of plankton biogeography and marine ecosystem function,

2)   to foster future collaborative work and develop a joint international proposal for a suitable call at either the European or international level,

3)   to strengthen data sharing efforts between the partners in order to generate publicly available merged data bases on all aspects of plankton biogeography as a community service.

4)   to publish a community paper that exposes the methodological developments and data requirements necessary to understand the link between ecosystem structure and ecosystem functioning, and

5)   to publish the first ‘best practice’ protocol for the development, validation and interpretation of SDM and associated SDM software packages for marine planktonic ecosystems as a community service for data providers and experimental plankton ecologists.

Expected Outcomes

The scientific work on the link between marine ecosystem structure and function will inform the next IPCC assessment, and, potentially, the IPCC Special Report on the Impacts of Global Warming of 1.5°C above Pre-industrial Levels and related Greenhouse Gas Emission Pathways as invited by the UNFCCC decision in Paris. Since changes in plankton biogeography are likely to lead to substantial socio-economic impacts in terms of fisheries revenues, “PlankBioS” research will be relevant for policy makers and stakeholders.

The workshop was hosted by the AZTI-Tecnalia and gathered 23 participants from five countries to discuss the methodological developments in biodiversity metrics, e.g. in genomic approaches, and to review methods for ecological niche modelling. The workshop highlighted the potential of novel data such as genomic data to provide a detailed insight into plankton biodiversity. It also provided a new insight into global diversity patterns based on ecological niche modelling. Among other topics, the participants highlight the urgent need to integrate new genomic data with traditional data sets in order to have continuous time series to enable niche modelling.

Future products of the workshop include a report on methodological developments in biodiversity measures published on the working group website ( and the writing of a mini review on the key issues/challenges in ecological niche modelling. Future funding opportunities were also discussed. The participants identified ICES groups of interest (WGZE, WGIMT, WGPME) and will attend the meetings in 2018. Future actions include also contacting researchers to explore the interest in an International Training Network (ITN) on plankton biodiversity (observation, modelling), and to propose a session for the ASLO Aquatic Sciences meeting in 2019 on plankton biogeography. Another action will be the preparation of a EuroMarine proposal in 2018 focussing on one challenge identified in the EuroMarine Foresight workshop 2016 and the resulting Mini-Review by Chust et al. (2017): “What can we learn about plankton communities from the new wealth of high-throughput “omics” data?”.

The first workshop (WS1) focused on the definition of biodiversity metrics (taxonomic, phylogenetic and functional biodiversity) and the use of new data (e.g. in situ imaging, automatic recognition, metabarcoding) for plankton studies. The results from this discussion will be published on the website of the working group as a short report. In the second workshop (WS2) the participants reviewed developments, validation and interpretation of niche modelling and associated software packages in small groups to identify the key issues/challenges in plankton species distribution models. A mini-review on this will be developed in 2018.

Update Feed

March 22, 2017 - News - Update or Reminder - PlankBIOS workshop - deadline extended