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Blue Green Biodiversity Research Initiative

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An Eawag-WSL collaboration focusing on biodiversity at the interface of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.


Biodiversity is essential to human life and welfare. The loss of biodiversity is, next to climate change, one of the biggest challenges humanity is facing. Research and action to reverse and mitigate the loss of biodiversity and associated ecosystem functions and services are thus crucially needed. In order to tackle this scientifically and societally urgent topic, the ETH Board has funded a research initiative on Blue-Green Biodiversity (BGB), i.e. the biological diversity at the interface of water and on land. Its goal is to strengthen interdisciplinary biodiversity research within WSL and Eawag, but also within the whole ETH domain and beyond, to understand and respond to challenges associated to species loss and biodiversity change as quickly as possible.



  • BGB 2020
    In 2020, a core set of questions and projects has been identified and projects have commenced in August 2020. These projects aim to provide rapid results by focusing on the analysis of existing data to answer topical questions in basic and applied biodiversity science at the interface of aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity. The BGB 2020 call comprised 13 funded research projects to support post-doctoral fellows for one year (projects listed below).
  • BGB 2021–2024
    In 2021, longer-term research projects will beginn, including new experiments, field studies and data collection. These projects will aim to further develop themes from BGB 2020, as well as to expand into new cutting-edge research and applied questions, for which data do not already exist.

Main objectives 2020

  • Community building, horizon scanning and priority setting to establish new collaborations and address timely questions
  • Analysis of existing data and modelling to obtain greater insight into similarities and inter-connections between aquatic and terrestrial systems
  • Outreach and translation to communicate findings to practitioners and the broader public

List of funded BGB-projects for 2020

Project 1 – The architecture of community structure, functional traits and trophic networks across blue-green ecosystems
Project lead: Prof. Dr. Florian Altermatt (Eawag) and Prof. Dr. Loïc Pellissier (WSL)
Post-doc: Ho Hsi-Cheng
Collaborators: Jakob Brodersen (Eawag), Martin Gossner (WSL), Catherine Graham (WSL), Ole Seehausen (Eawag), Niklaus Zimmermann (WSL)

Project 2 – Blue-green infrastructure for blue-green lives: modelling use and colonization credit of an ecological infrastructure to inform evidence-based amphibian conservation
Project lead: Dr. Ariel Bergamini (WSL) and Prof. Dr. Christoph Vorburger (Eawag)
Post-doc: Helen Moor
Collaborators: Simon Egger (canton of Aargau), Rolf Holderegger (WSL), Benedikt Schmidt (info fauna karch & UZH)

Project 3 – Analysing recent developments in abundance, biomass and species richness of aquatic and terrestrial insects in Switzerland
Project lead: Dr. Kurt Bollmann (WSL) and Dr. Nele Schuwirth (Eawag)
Post-doc: Friederike Gebert
Collaborators: Martin K. Obrist (WSL), Florian Altermatt (Eawag)

Project 4 – Contrasting patterns and processes of biological invasions in blue versus green ecosystems
Project lead: Dr. Eckehard Brockerhoff (WSL) and Dr. Marco Baity-Jesi (Eawag)
Post-doc: Agnieszka Sendek
Collaborators: Florian Altermatt (Eawag), Martin Bader (WSL), Martin Gossner (WSL), Martin Obrist (WSL), Andrew Liebhold (US Forest Service / CULS), Hanno Seebens (Senckenberg Biodiv. & Climate Res.), Piet Spaak (Eawag), Christoph Vorburger (Eawag), Thomas Wohlgemuth (WSL)

Project 5Testing the generality of biotic homogenization by human impact in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems
Project lead: Dr. Martin M. Gossner (WSL) and Prof. Dr. Florian Altermatt (Eawag)
Post-doc: Mark Wong
Collaborators: Jakob Brodersen (Eawag), Catherine Graham (WSL), Heike Lischke (WSL), Marco Moretti (WSL), Loïc Pellissier (WSL), Ole Seehausen (Eawag), Thomas Wohlgemuth (WSL), Niklaus E. Zimmermann (WSL)

Project 6 Evaluating temporal community structure as a function of environmental variables acting at different scales
Project lead: Prof. Dr. Catherine Graham (WSL) and Dr. Blake Matthews (Eawag)
Post-doc: Shyamolina Ghosh
Collaborators: Martin Gossner (WSL), Heike Lischke (WSL), Anita Narwani (Eawag), Christian Rixen (WSL), Ole Seehausen (Eawag), Sarah R. Supp (Denison University), Thomas Wohlgemuth ( WSL), Niklaus E. Zimmermann (WSL)

Project 7How has Swiss biodiversity policy been performing over the last 30 years?
Project lead: Prof. Dr. Felix Kienast (WSL) and Dr. Manuel Fischer (Eawag)
Post-doc: Ueli Reber
Collaborators: Rolf Grütter (WSL), Anna Hersperger (WSL), Karin Ingold (Eawag), Olga Koblet (Univ. Zürich), Ross Purves (Univ. Zürich)

Project 8Predator coupling of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems: the importance of nutritional diversity of prey
Project lead: Dr. Blake Matthews (Eawag) and Prof. Dr. Catherine Graham (WSL)
Post-doc: Ryan Shipley
Collaborators: Jakob Brodersen (Eawag), Martin Gossner (WSL), Ryan Shipley (MPI-AB), Christine Weber (Eawag)

Project 9Blue-green infrastructure for biodiversity enrichment in human-dominated landscapes
Project lead: Prof. Dr. Max Maurer (Eawag) and Dr. Janine Bolliger (WSL)
Post-doc: Giulia Donati
Collaborators: Peter Marcus Bach (Eawag), Achilleas Psomas (WSL)

Project 10Warming-related community turnover in terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems
Project lead: Dr. Anita Narwani (Eawag) and Dr. Christian Rixen (WSL)
Post-doc: Imran Khaliq
Collaborators: Jakob Brodersen (Eawag), Martin Gossner (WSL), Catherine Graham (WSL), Blake Matthews (Eawag), Loïc Pellissier (WSL), Francesco Pomati (Eawag), Ole Seehausen (Eawag), Florian Zellweger (WSL), Niklaus E. Zimmermann (WSL)

Project 11Global remotely sensed phenology: A unifying Essential Biodiversity Variable for assessing the linkage between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems
Project lead: Dr. Daniel Odermatt (Eawag) and Dr. Yann Vitasse (WSL)
Post-doc: Jelle Lever
Collaborators: Alexander Damm-Reiser (University of Zurich), Petra D’Odorico (WSL), Arthur Martin Gessler (WSL), Luis Gilarranz (Eawag), Christian Ginzler (WSL)

Project 12 – Biodiversity assembly in blue and green ecosystems: speciation versus immigration
Project lead: Prof. Dr. Ole Seehausen (Eawag) and Prof. Dr. Niklaus E. Zimmermann (WSL)
Post-doc: Luiz Jardim de Queiroz
Collaborators: Florian Altermatt (Eawag), Jakob Brodersen (Eawag), Catherine Graham (WSL), Blake Matthews (Eawag), Loïc Pellissier (WSL), Lukas Rüber (NMBE)

Project 13Assessing richness differences between blue and green systems by quantifying biodiversity turnover along global gradients
Project lead: Prof. Dr. Niklaus E. Zimmermann (WSL) and Prof. Dr. Ole Seehausen (Eawag)
Post-doc: Ian McFadden
Collaborators: Florian Altermatt (Eawag), Blake Matthews (Eawag), Martin Gossner (WSL), Catherine Graham (WSL), Nicolas Gruber (ETHZ), Martina Hobi (WSL), Loïc Pellissier (WSL), Meike Vogt (ETHZ), Tom Wohlgemuth (WSL)