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Eelgrass meadow with small fish
Photo: Martin Isaeus

PREHAB – Spatial prediction of benthic habitats in the Baltic Sea

Research project

Short description

Maps of the spatial distribution of biodiversity and the associated ecological goods and services provide an important basis for sustainable planning of the Baltic Sea. A cost-effective and practical method for producing such maps is through predictive modelling. The aim of the PREHAB project is to evaluate new tools for marine spatial planning and environmental impact assessment. We target authorities and policy-makers in the Baltic Sea region.

Main results

  • predictive modelling is a promising method for obtaining useful maps on the distribution of species and habitats,
  • scenario modelling is a useful tool for understanding and predicting ecosystem responses to alternative management options,
  • the citizens of the Baltic Sea countries value a clean and healthy sea and are willing to pay for mitigation actions.

Principal investigators

Ulf Bergström
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Mats Lindegarth
Gothenburg University

Johanna Mattila
Åbo Akademi University

Sergej Olenin
Klaipeda University

Markku Ollikainen
University of Helsinki

Heikki Peltonen
Finnish Environment institute


Bergström U., Sundblad G., Downie A.-L., Snickars M., Boström C., Lindegarth M. 2012. Evaluating eutrophication management scenarios in the Baltic Sea using species distribution modelling. Submitted.

Bučas M, Downie A-L, Sundblad G, Gullström M., Lindegarth M., Bergström U., von Numers M., Šiaulys A, Duinskas K. Predictive modelling of benthic species distribution and abundance: performance in a Baltic-wide perspective. Submitted.

Eriksson BK, Sieben K, Eklöf J, Ljunggren L, Olsson J, Casini M, Bergström U. 2011. Effects of altered offshore food webs on coastal ecosystems emphasizes the need for cross-ecosystem management. Ambio 40:786-797.

Florin A-B, Sundblad G, Bergström U. 2009. Characterisation of juvenile flatfish habitat in the Baltic Sea. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 82: 294–300.

Gonzalez-Mirelis G., Bergström P and Lindegarth M. Interaction between classification detail and prediction of community types: implications for predictive modelling of benthic biotopes. 2011. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 432:31-44.

Gonzalez-Mirelis G, Bergström P, Lundälv T, Jonsson L, and M. Lindegarth. 2009. Mapping the benthos: spatial patterns of seabed-dwelling megafauna in a Swedish Fjord, as derived from opportunistic video data. Mar. Biodiv. 39: 291–302.

Gonzalez-Mirelis, G., Lundälv, T., Jonsson, L. and Lindegarth, M. Seabed mapping and marine spatial planning: a case-study from a Swedish marine protected area. Accepted book chapter. In: Cruzado, A. (ed.) Marine Ecosystems. InTech. In press.

Gonzalez-Mirelis, G. and Lindegarth, M. 2011. Predicting the distribution of out-of-reach biotopes by conditional inference: a case-study from a Swedish Fjord. Ecological Application. In press.

Gonzales-Mirelis, G., Lindegarth, M. and Sköld, M. 2012. Using vessel monitoring system data to improve systematic conservation planning of a multiple-use marine protected area, the Kosterhavet National Park (Sweden). Submitted to Ambio.

Gullström M, Baden S, Lindegarth M. 2012. Spatial patterns and environmental correlates in epiphytic assemblages of temperate seagrass (Zostera marina) meadows. Marine Biology 159:413-425.

Heinänen, S., Erola, J., von Numers, M. 2012. High resolution species distribution models of two nesting water bird species: a study of transferability and predictive performance. Landscape Ecology. DOI 10.1007/s10980-012-9705-8.

Kosenius, Anna-Kaisa. 2010. Heterogeneous Preferences for Water Quality Attributes: the case of Eutrophication of the Gulf of Finland, Baltic Sea. Ecological Economics 69(3): 528-538.

Kosenius AK and Ollikainen M. 2011. Economic valuation of ecosystem services provided by coastal habitats in Finland, Sweden, and Lithuania. Submitted.

Ljunggren, L., Sandström, A., Bergström, U., Mattila, J., Lappalainen , A., Johansson, G., Sundblad, G., Casini, M., Kaljuste, O. & Eriksson, B.K. (2010) Recruitment failure of coastal predatory fish in the Baltic Sea coincident with an offshore ecosystem regime shift. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 67, 1587-1595.

Rinne H., Salovious-Laurén S., Mattila J., 2011. The occurrence and depth penetration of macroalgae along environmental gradients in the northern Baltic Sea. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 94: 182–191.

Šiaulys A., Daunys D., Bučas M., Bacevičius E., 2012. Map      ping an ecosystem service: a quantitative approach to derive fish feeding ground maps. Oceanologia. In press.

Sieben K, Ljunggren L, Bergström U, Eriksson BK 2011. A meso-predator release of stickleback promotes recruitment of macroalgae in the Baltic Sea. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 397: 79-84.

Snickars, M., G. Sundblad, A. Sandström, L. Ljunggren, U. Bergström, G. Johansson & J. Mattila. 2010. Habitat selectivity of substrate spawning fish - modelling requirements of the Eurasian perch, Perca fluviatilis. Mar. Ecol. Progr. Ser. 398: 235-243.

Snickars, M., Gullström, M., Sundblad, G., Bergström, U., Downie, A-L., Lindegarth, M., Mattila, J. Species-environment relationships and potential for distributionmodelling in in coastal waters. Journal of Sea Research, January 2014.

Sundblad G., Bergström U., Sandström A., Eklöv P. 2012. Nursery habitat availability limits adult stock sizes of predatory coastal fish. ICES Journal of Marine Science, March/April 2014.

Sundblad G, Bergström U, Sandström A. 2010. Ecological coherence of marine protected area networks: a spatial assessment using species distribution models. Journal of Applied Ecology, 48:112-120.

Sundblad G., Härmä M., Lappalainen A., Urho L., Bergström U. 2009. Transferability of predictive fish larvae distribution models in two coastal systems. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 83: 90-96.

Svensson, R., Jonsson, L., Lindegarth, M. 2011. Excessive spatial resolution decrease performance of quantitative models, contrary to expectations from error analyses.. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser.. June 2013.

Svensson, J.R., Lindegarth, M., Jonson, P.R., Pavia, H. 2012. Disturbance-diversity models: what do they really predict and how are they tested? Proceedings of the Royal Society B 279: 2163-2170.

Ustups D, Muller-Karulis B, Bergström U, Makarchouk A, Sics I 2011. The influence of environmental conditions on early life stages of flounder (Platichtys flesus) in the Baltic Sea. Journal of Sea Research, January 2013.

Bodnarciukiene I. Geoadditive models and their application in R. Statistics and Operations, Klaipeda University. MSc thesis, 2011.

Baltmiskyte E., 2011. Bayesian spatial linear models and their realization in Openbugs environment. Statistics and Operations Research degree master's thesis. Klaipeda University. MSc thesis, 2011.

Gonzales-Mirelis, Genoveva. Spatial distribution and conservation planning of seabed biological diversity. University of Gothenburg, Department of Marine Ecology. PhD thesis, 2011.

Karlsson Martin. Fish and crustacean habitat modelling on the Swedish west coast - what factors regulate species distribution? Lund University. MSc thesis, 2009.

Kosenius, Anna-Kaisa. Valuation of Reduced Eutrophication in the Gulf of Finland. Choice Experiment with Attention to Heterogeneous and Discontinuous Preferences and Respondent Uncertainty. University of Helsinki, Department of Economics and Management. PhD thesis, 2010.

Seppälä, Elina. Maksuhalukkuus Suomen ja Ruotsin välisen saariston ekosysteemipalveluiden suojelusta - tarkastelussa Suomi ja sen maaakunnat (Willingness-to-pay for the protection of the ecosystem services in the Finnish-Swedish archipelago area). University of Helsinki, Department of Economics and Management. MSc thesis, 2011.

Sundblad, Göran. Spatial Modelling of Coastal Fish – Methods and Applications. Uppsala University. PhD thesis, 2010.