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Institute of

SF Sea Fisheries


Climate Change and Future Marine Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity (FutureMARES)


Climate Change and Future Marine Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity 

Climate change has negative impacts on marine ecosystems, biodiversity and ecosystem services. Which adaptation strategies to climate change using nature based solutions are possible, to reduce the negative impacts on marine ecosystems?

Background and Objective

Climate change (CC) has increasing negative impacts on marine ecosystems. Species adapted to warmer waters move north in the southern North Sea, while species adapted to colder waters need to move north. Marine ecosystems buffer changes differently so the conservation of certain ecosystem may assist to reduce negative impacts of climate change.

The overarching goal of FutureMARES is to provide socially and economically viable actions, strategies and Nature-based Solution (NBS) for CC adaptation and mitigation to safeguard future biodiversity, and ecosystem functions, maximising natural capital and its delivery of services from marine and transitional ecosystems.

Our objectives in FutureMARES are especially economic analyses of implementation strategies and cost-benefit-analyses for measures to restore ecosystems.

FutureMARES will improve our understanding of the inter-relations between CC impacts, and how NBS can increase the adaptation and mitigation potential of marine and transitional systems, and strongly contribute to upcoming national-, EU- and global-level reports, policies and interventions.


The following provides a background of eight important methods applied by FutureMARES to achieve its ambitious goals:

  1. Future Scenarios of CC and NBS: These future scenarios draw on outputs and developments from the IPCC,IPBES and UNEP and the work of project partners in these international groups and previous projects.
  2. Ecological Knowledge needed for planning effective NBS - The proposed approach used in FutureMARES identifies and quantifies the key links between biodiversity and ecosystem services with socio-economic aspects in the present and under future scenarios of CC for European regional seas and CELAC regions. These links can be formulated as indicators and their tipping points.
  3. Tolerance Adaptive Capacity of species and communities. FutureMARES tackles this challenge using in situ measurements and targeted mesocosm studies. Locations will include both climate hotspots and potential climate refugia in several shallow coastal ecosystems across Europe.
  4. Projections of physical and biogeochemical impact of CC. A key element in the activities of FutureMARES (or any project on biodiversity, NBS and CC) is to provide the best possible estimates of future climate-induced changes in physical and biogeochemical factors that propagate the CC signal and determine its impact on species and communities from the local to global scale.
  5. Improved projections of ecological impact of CC. FutureMARES will provide groundbreaking developments in the predictive capacity of models projecting CC impacts on species at the helm conservation and restoration programs within and outside European waters and ecosystem components at the centre of NBS and crucial for a range of ecosystem services (regulation; provision, cultural).
  6. Social and ecological systems model outputs as well as indicators and empirical knowledge are an important input for climate vulnerability assessments (CVAs), a powerful approach to integrate multi-faceted impacts of CC on biodiversity and the numerous services it provides to human societies.
  7. Economic costs and benefits of NBS. In order to evaluate the benefits and costs incurred by NBSs to mitigate and adapt to CC impacts, FutureMARES will apply economic cost-effectiveness-analysis and benefit transfer from ecosystem services.
  8. Use Powerful tools to integrate, display and discuss our results the ecological, social and economic impacts of implementing one, or combinations of the three NBS in specific regions will be combined using a variety of different tools. Co-framing project activities with a variety of stakeholders plays an important role to generating alternative implementation strategies to be tested and discussed.

Our Research Questions

The project will especially look at three types of Nature-based Solutions (NBS) to mitigate and adapt to Climate Change in e.g. European waters and other marine and transitional waters.

NBS1:Effective Restoration Strategies of habitat-forming species that can act as ‘climate rescuers’. Targeted habitats include seagrasses, salt marshes, mangroves, kelp forests, coral reefs and shellfish reefs, which can buffer species from negative effects of warming and ocean acidification. These habitats are also key nursery areas supporting biodiversity (including commercially important species), provide natural refuges and feeding grounds, improve seawater quality, reduce coastal erosion and flood risk, function as carbon sinks (regulating climate), and sustain tourism and cultural activities.

NBS2: Effective Conservation Strategies explicitly considering the range of impacts of CC and other hazards on habitat suitability for flora and fauna. Strategies explored include preserving the integrity of food webs and sustaining population connectivity across networks of climate refugia (where biogeophysical conditions are stable or changing slowly22 over multiple spatial and temporal scales (i.e. from site-specific marine protected areas to conservation strategies for highly-migratory charismatic megafauna).

NBS3:Sustainable Harvesting of seafood from fisheries and aquaculture that is flexible, adaptive and managed on a whole ecosystem basis. Ongoing impacts of CC require an ecosystem-based management and multispecies approach23that can adapt to shifts in species’ productivity, distribution and interactions24. High-level EU policy advisors have highlighted culture and capture at lower trophic levels as critical for sustainable seafood production25 (linking with NBS1). Strategies must also account for potential trade-offs among multiple users, economic sectors and the ecosystem services such as cultural heritage for effective Blue Growth linking with spatial planning in NBS2. Therefore, the three NBSs do not act in isolation but rather exert synergetic positive effects.

The main research question for the Thünen-Institute will be the sustainable harvesting of living marine resources in the North Sea taking restoration and conservation strategies into account (e.g. select best suitable habitats to improve preservation of habitats and stocks under climate change impacts).


Dr. Anne Sell

+49 471 94460 365

Involved external Thünen-Partners

Funding Body

  • European Union (EU)
    (international, öffentlich)


9.2020 - 8.2024

More Information

Project funding number: Grant Agreement number: 869300
Project status: ongoing

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