Working Group 1

From description to prediction of cumulative human impacts on marine ecosystems to inform conservation planning

Notable scientific efforts have been made to describe the impacts of human stressors on marine biodiversity. However, analytical tools are limited in the way they predict the cumulative impacts on marine ecosystems. Their spatial and temporal heterogeneity requires novel analyses. So far, these analyses have been static and when evaluating the impact on trophic interactions and functioning of marine ecosystems they took a maximum of two or three effects into account. This WG will advance the understanding of cumulative impacts of human stressors considering their spatial and temporal heterogeneity and their impact on marine species, communities and ecosystems. In this context, this COST Action aims at applying and further developing new integrative methods to analyse cumulative impacts (e.g., fisheries, habitat modification, biological invasions), including those related to climate change, on marine biodiversity and ecosystems.


  • T1.1 The information available about cumulative impacts on marine ecosystems, in the European and contiguous seas, will be updated after an extensive literature review.
  • T1.2 New spatial-temporal modelling methodologies will be developed to use the information of T1.1 and assess the cumulative impacts on representative European marine ecosystems. These analyses will be performed by ecosystem type and region, and will include the development and application of a link between Marxan and Ecospace modelling toolbox.
  • T1.3 A comparative analysis of results will be performed to place results in a regional context.


  1. Extensive literature research and collection of expertise knowledge on cumulative impacts.
  2. Development of new modelling techniques to analyse cumulative impacts on ecosystems.
  3. Training School to teach new modelling techniques and apply them to specific case studies (representing different ecosystem types and regions).
  4. Comparative analysis of results.
  5. Development of a scientific discussion on how this information can be integrated to inform management and conservation planning processes.


  • M1.1 One workshop (year 1) and one Training School (year 2) aiming to improve our understanding of cumulative impacts in European Seas by ecosystem type and region.
  • M1.2 One workshop (year 2) and one Training School (year 3) for the quantification of additive, synergistic and antagonistic effects of cumulative impacts.
  • M1.3 One workshop for the development of management guidelines to deal with cumulative impacts on ecosystems and inform conservation planning (year 4).


  • D1.1 Review paper on cumulative impacts of human stressors in European and contiguous seas.
  • D1.2 Scientific paper assessing cumulative impacts in European and contiguous seas with emphasis on specific case studies representing different ecosystem types and regions.
  • D1.3 Shadow policy document presenting management guidelines to deal with cumulative effects of ecosystem impacts and inform conservation planning.