Project: Understanding cross-habitat linkages between blue and green infrastructure to optimize management of biodiversity, ecosystem services and multiple human uses (CROSSLINK)

Stream-riparian networks are key components of green and blue infrastructure (GBI) that underpin landscape integrity by transporting nutrients, regulating floods, buffering human impacts and supplying fresh water, and are also central to the cultural life of human societies. However, stream-riparian GBI are subject to multiple human pressures, from water extraction, agriculture, hydropower, flood protection, and recreational activities. These uses and pressures affect longitudinal and lateral connectivity in these networks, driving habitat and diversity losses, threatening ecosystem services, and causing stakeholder conflicts. With a multidisciplinary research team and fully integrated stakeholder engagement, CROSSLINK aims to (i) evaluate how the extent, spatial arrangement and connectivity of riparian-stream GBI affects biodiversity, ecosystem functioning, ecosystem services, and resilience indicators in forested, urban and rural settings, and (ii) to produce an optimization framework capable of balancing multiple values, uses and needs with longer term adaptive capacity and resilience in riparian-stream GBI. CROSSLINK will analyse existing data and policies on stream-riparian GBI and conduct extensive novel and spatially explicit field studies in four case-study basins in Norway (forested and urban stream reaches in the Oslo Fjord basin), Sweden (forested and agricultural stream reaches in the Lake Mälaren basin), Belgium (forested, agricultural and urban reaches in the Scheldt river basin) and Romania (forested and agricultural reaches in catchments of the Arges steppes). Stakeholders assist in identifying pressures and priorities, areas of conflict, and possible actions in management for each case-study system. Based on compilation of existing data and novel empirical field studies, a GBI asset portfolio will be constructed, comprising biodiversity, multiple supporting ecosystem processes (e.g. algal productivity, litter decomposition, soil bioturbation) and ecosystem services (e.g. nutrient retentivity, fish, water quality, C sequestration), and flood protection and resilience properties (functional redundancy, cross-scale connectivity). Three approaches to quantifying network connectivity are employed: (1) the probability of connectivity (PC) metric, which is based on drainage basin structure and topology and discontinuities (e.g. dams) (2) direct quantification of lateral connectivity based on polyunsaturated fatty acid and isotope markers and organism dispersal, and (3) Identification of the spatial scales constraining activities and movements of species, based on discontinuity analysis of species and functional trait data for key organism groups (terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates, algae, aquatic microbes, fish). The explanatory power of these approaches is compared and contrasted, leading to identification and refinement of optimal connectivity measures at both local and whole network scales. Relationships between the portfolio elements and spatial connectivity and multiple human uses and impacts are analysed, and incorporated into an optimisation models which focus on identifying spatial configurations and strategies for GBI that minimize trade-offs in management while maximising multifunctionality from local to landscape scales. The main findings from CROSSLINK, including optimal solutions for GBI planning, will be translated into a learning-based environment allowing stakeholder analysis of trade-offs/synergies between multiple values/goals in the management and design of stream-riparian GBI.

Acronym CROSSLINK (Reference Number: 49)
Duration 31/12/2016 - 30/12/2019
Project Topic 2: Understanding and managing biodiversity dynamics in land-, river- and sea-scapes (habitat connectivity, green and blue infrastructures, and naturing cities) to improve ecosystem functioning and delivery of ecosystem services
Network BiodivERsA3
Call BiodivERsA3 Joint Call 2015

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
1 Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences Coordinator Sweden
2 Ghent University Partner Belgium
3 Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research Partner Germany
4 Norsk institutt for vannforskning (Norwegian Institute for Water Research) Partner Norway
5 University of Bucharest Partner Romania