For Managers and Policy Makers

How to decide which areas to protect, how to manage fishery resources, how to anticipate and prevent disastrous environmental outcomes?


BioVeL workflows can be used to model various scenarios to support decision-making. Our ENM workflows can easily be used to model scenarios of the future of biodiversity, and help make decisions based on scientific research. Following are several case studies that show how BioVeL workflows have been used to produce such results. For further information on how our products can be helpful to biodiversity stakeholders, please write

CASE STUDY 1: Forest Insect Outbreak in Europe

Modelling major forest insect outbreaks in Europe under climate change scenarios using ecological niche modelling and automated workflows

TortrixViridana-LRPäivi Lyytikäinen-Saarenmaa, Hannu Saarenmaa, Yuliya Fetyukova,  Alan Williams, Renato De Giovanni, Robert Kulawik, Matthias Obst,  Mart-Jan Schelhaas

Several studies suggest that climate change affect performance of forest insects. An option to address these questions is ecological niche modelling (ENM). The models are based on species’ ecological niches, as known occurrence points are related to climate and other environmental features. ENM model can be projected onto present-day climates and onto modelled future climates. The objective of our study was to predict the future distribution of eight major forest pest insects under the climate change scenarios. Another objective was to build a computing environment to automate this kind of studies. Forest insect and host tree observations came from GBIF Data Portal and EFI Database on Forest Disturbances in Europe. The environmental layers came from the WorldClim repository. For climate change the Hadley A1F Scenario of IPCC was used for year 2050. The Maxent algorithm was applied and the Taverna workflow for ENM was created.

Historical and 2050 projections showed that habitat suitability shifts appr. 500 kilometers to north-east. The most suitable habitats have been in central Europe, but the future prediction points to Scandinavia and NE Russia. The habitat coverage and suitability increases for most species significantly in Finland. The projections are useful e.g. for ecosystem management, forest protection, and forest health management planning.

– Paper presented at INTECOL 2013, London, UK


CASE STUDY 2: Killer Whales and Salmon in Northeastern Pacific Ocean

OrcaSalmonTwo distinct populations of resident killer whales (Orcinus orca) in the northeastern Pacific Ocean have been listed in Canada and the U.S. as of conservation concern. The Southern Resident Killer Whale (SRKW) population is currently listed as endangered in both countries. The Northern Resident Killer Whale (NRKW) population has been listed as threatened in Canada. The major threats recognized for these two populations are nutritional stress associated to prey abundance levels and availability, pollution and contaminants, and disturbances from vessels and sound. The predominance of Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) in the summer diets of both killer whale populations has been evidenced by recent studies, and there is also indication that the frequency of occurrence of Chum salmon (O. keta) increases in both populations at the end of the summer, surpassing Chinook salmon frequency of occurrence by early Fall. Other studies have identified correlations between indices of Chinook salmon abundance and killer whale survival and fecundity rates and hypothesized strong linkages between Chinook salmon abundance and the population dynamics of resident killer whales. Additional effort is now required to quantify these linkages and their influence on the population viability of these two populations.

Two BioVeL workflows will use demographic models and population viability analysis (PVA) of endangered SRKW and threatened NRKW that incorporate linkages between killer whale vital rates (i.e., sex- and stage-specific survival probability and fecundity rates) and Chinook salmon abundance to address some of the pressing questions that have recently engaged the efforts of scientists and managers interested in: (1) the factors limiting population growth of SRKW; (2) explanations for the marked differences in the observed population trajectories of SRKW and NRKW in spite of their large home range overlap; (3) the role of Chinook salmon on the population dynamics of both killer whale populations; and, (4) the potential benefits for killer whale population viability expected from reductions in Chinook fishing mortality and changes in Chinook fishery regimes (Vélez-Espino et al 2013).



CASE STUDY 3: Risk Assessment and Monitoring Tool for Invasive Species Spreading with the Ballast Water of Trading Ships

BoatsA recently produced report delivered to the European Space Agency uses Swedish LifeWatch data together with BioVeL workflows to establish a risk assessment and monitoring tool for invasive species spreading with the ballast water of trading ships.

The report to the European Space Agency (ESA) uses BioVeL's workflows for Taxonomic Data Refinement and Ecological Niche modelling. It explores the potential of combining satellite born (Earth Observation) data with biological data for the prediction of biological invasions caused by certain shipping routes.

The report contributes to the implementation of the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ship's Ballast Water and Sediments (BMWC 2004), developed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). According to this legislation, all ships have to treat their ballast water starting in 2013, but the regional conventions programs OSPAR and HELCOM suggest that there may be some exceptions for certain ships operating with short routes or in enclosed seas. Such decisions, however, need to be based on biological risk assessments of shipping routes.

An example of such a biological risk assessment was explored in the report, by testing the utility of Swedish data coming from the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI), as well as other resources, to evaluate the accumulated risk of species being transfected between ports in the North East Atlantic.





19 February 2015

At the final review of the project by the EC, one of the reviewers said: “Incredible work done with a community that is not unified. Remarkable work. It opens for new development in a near future. Hope for success. Good project. Happy that you have been financed three plus years ago.”

Read all about the project and its results in the Project Final Report or read the Executive Summary only.