Biodiversity of Freshwater Ecosystems


Biodiversity of Freshwater Ecosystems (BioFresh): Status, Trends, Pressures, and Conservation Priorities.

BioFresh, November 2009 - April 2014, was the first EU-funded project that focused on the status, trends, pressures and conservation priorities of freshwater biodiversity and its related ecosystem services. Its outcome supports EU biodiversity and water related policies that aim to integrate the protection of freshwater life and the services it provides for human welfare. Information on the project and its outcomes can be found on the BioFresh project website.

The project was a acollaborative effort led by FORSCHUNGSVERBUND BERLIN E.V. with 19 international partner organisations. IUCN Species Programme was participating in this project as a partner. The project was divided into three tightly interacting Workblocks (WB1-3) and nine integrated Workpackages (WP0-8) on which different partners take the lead. WB1, the database workblock, includes WPs1-3. WB2, the science workblock, includes WPs4-6, while WB3, including WPs7-8, is concerned with policy and outreach activities. IUCN Species led on WP7 which will inform conservation planning for freshwater biodiversity through the provision of baseline data of the status and distribution of freshwater species as a basis for long-term monitoring and identification of important sites of freshwater biodiversity. IUCN Species also evaluated the efficacy of existing Protected Areas for freshwater biodiversity and developed scenarios for future protected area networks.


The BioFresh BioMatrix

The BioFresh BioMatrix holds contemporary distributions of freshwater species mapped to the latest catchment layer; HydroBASINS.

The BioMatrix is a data repository of contemporary distributions of freshwater biodiversity created by the BioFresh project, largely drawn from species range maps, a range of environmental variables, species trait data and IUCN Red List TM species assessments, and mapped to the latest catchment layer; HydroBASINS. The BioMatrix is a "living" repository for data that is actively updated to ensure that knowledge on freshwater species available to the scientific and wider community is ever-expanding. Therefore, the addition of datasets to the BioMatrix is an ongoing process and updated releases of the BioMatrix will continue beyond March 28th 2013, as and when new components are added. A second public release of the BioMatrix is scheduled for the end of July 2013. IUCN will continue to host, maintain and update the database beyond the currently funded period of the BioFresh project.

Currently the BioMatrix contains data for a range of taxonomic groups at the European and global scales and has been split into key taxonomic groups to enable easy access for different user groups. Each species distribution is mapped to sub-catchments using the HydroBASINS global catchment layer. HydroBASIN catchments are available at twelve spatial resolutions and the species distributions have been mapped to either HydroBASIN level 8 or level 10 (depending on suitability for a given species). Mapping freshwater species distributions to freshwater catchments is necessary as catchments are the management unit for freshwater species and allow for the improvement of spatially-explicit scientific knowledge and conservation planning decisions. For instance, patterns of species richness and diversity can be understood at the catchment scale which in turn can be used to identify Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs).

The first public release of the BioMatrix data took place on March 28th 2013 and made available the distributions of 680 species of European mollusc, 530 species of European fishes, 139 European Odonata, 355 Aquatic plant species, 505 global crayfish species and 142 global freshwater mammal species. A user guide, including species lists, is available in the document ‘BioFresh BioMatrix Manual’.

Enviromental data and further species traits and spatial resolutions will augment the BioMatrix in future releases. Currently trait metadata is referenced from

Data are provided in text format to facilitate download. If you require the HydroBASINS shapefiles, email us with your request and intended use of the species data at


Biomatrix Distribution Data Download Biomatrix Trait Data Download
  • Biofresh is funded by the European Union 7th Framework Programme.

    Biofresh is funded by the European Union 7th Framework Programme.

    Photo: EU FP7

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Watch a summary of the Water Lives symposium 2014
  • Biofresh Water Lives symposium 2014

    Biofresh Water Lives symposium 2014

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