MAPMAKER: MArine Plankton diversity bioindicator scenarios for policy MAKERs [ICP 2020]

Project summary

Global marine biodiversity supplies essential ecosystem services to human societies. To protect them, information on the impact of climate-mediated loss of biodiversity on their function needs to be produced and taken into account in international agreements and policy documents.
Based on new observational data and novel machine learning algorithms, MAPMAKER will project future changes in plankton biodiversity and develop novelw impact metrics. It will build visualisation tools to inform data-driven decision- making on marine biodiversity conservation at the international level.

Full summary

The crucial role of marine biodiversity in the regulation of Earth’s climate is neglected in many international agreements and policy documents on climate change. Future projections of marine plankton diversity changes are highly uncertain, notably due to the paucity and biased nature of global observational data. Machine learning tools can be used to compensate for biases and to extrapolate data in space and time.
To inform international decisions on marine conservation and climate change mitigation, adequate information must be provided to policy makers, implying that biodiversity projections need to be translated into novel, quantitative ecosystem impact metrics (biomes, hotspots of change).
Project holders have already mapped the biogeography of thousands of plankton species for the present ocean, using a range of species distribution models. These models will be projected into the future based on different emission scenarios, and biodiversity indices will be tailored to target international policy needs.

This project aims to build an interactive web tool for policy makers that visualizes projected ecosystem impacts and changes in global plankton diversity as a function of societal decisions.

International decision-makers are informed on potential future changes in global marine plankton and start addressing challenges to marine biodiversity conservation in international policies.

  • Multi-stakeholder interactive process to co-design, discuss and test novel biodiversity metrics and visualization products;
  • Multi-stakeholder workshop to discuss outcomes, outreach strategy, dissemination activities and scaling activities;
  • Publications, communication and dissemination activities in key international policy and scientific fora and networks
1 July 2020 - 30 June 2021
Project core partners

ETHZ Department of Environmental System Sciences (lead)
IUCN, Global Marine and Polar Programme (co-lead)


Dr Meike Vogt, Senior researcher, ETHZ:
Dr. Aurélie Spadone, Senior programme officer, IUCN :
Dr Frédérique Guérin, Executive Officer, GSPI: