Seafood resources, iconic and culturally valuable marine habitats, and the functioning and regulation of global cycles are currently under threat from a multitude of human-made and natural stressors. Robust, science‐based advice is urgently needed to implement actions to halt biodiversity loss and restore natural habitats and ecosystem services.
The international research project ACTNOW advances fundamental knowledge on the cumulative impacts of multiple stressors on European marine biodiversity, ecosystem functions, natural capital and the ecosystem services provided for human wellbeing. The project cooperates with environmental regulators and decision-makers to provide advice on actions needed to effectively combat biodiversity loss in coastal and marine habitats facing climate change and other local and regional pressures.
ACTNOW co-develops new ecosystem indicators and scenarios and improves tools needed to make mechanistic (cause-and-effect) projections of the impacts of interacting pressures and management actions on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in European coastal and marine regions. State-of-the-art biologging technology and molecular methods will be used to understand the biological mechanisms underlying organism and community responses to environmental changes such as the increase frequency of heatwaves. By integrating existing and new biodiversity data from multiple sources, ACTNOW gains a comprehensive understanding of the impacts of multiple pressures on coastal and marine ecosystems. Spatially-explicit models and projection techniques will be developed to quantify and predict the effects of cumulative anthropogenic perturbations on the sustainability, productivity, and resilience of marine ecosystems.
NIOZ is the scientific coordinator of ACTNOW and contributes to most elements of the workplan including conducting i) a North Sea research cruise to Dogger Bank in June 2023 examining hotspots in biodiversity and food web interactions, ii) laboratory ecophysiological experiments on habitat-forming animals such as shellfish, and iii) spatially-explicit food-web modeling of the Wadden Sea to test scenarios co-created with stakeholders. Efforts focus on understanding the biological mechanisms driving the responses of organisms to ecosystems to environmental change, as well as providing valuable insights for the management of marine areas, habitats, and species.