Duration: 2023-2027

Coordinator: Dr. Myron Peck (NIOZ)


Human activities have created unprecedented, cumulative threats resulting in stunning losses of biodiversity in our oceans. This is leading to well‐documented declines in seafood resources, losses of iconic and culturally valuable habitats, and impacts on the functioning and regulation of global cycles. Robust, science‐based advice is urgently needed to implement actions to halt biodiversity loss and restore natural habitats and ecosystem services. The EU project ACTNOW addresses this challenge by advancing the state‐of‐the‐art in understanding and predicting how multiple stressors and cumulative human impacts influence marine biodiversity. And in addition the direct and indirect consequences on ecosystem functions and contributions vital for human wellbeing. The ACTNOW project– which is a collaboration among 34 research partners across 16 countries.

ACTNOW is designed to:

  1. Co‐create regionalized ‘what if’ scenarios of multiple interacting stressors and management actions to forecast impacts on the biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in European coastal and marine habitats and regions;
  2. Develop a systemic approach for the integrated impact assessment of cumulative direct and indirect stressors on coastal and marine ecosystems processes and services (from benthic to pelagic systems, from food to human health) and assessment of the state of coastal and marine ecosystems “health” or condition, and resilience to cumulative pressures,
  3. Characterise, measure, and understand the combined impact of different types of pressures or perturbations (chemicals and energy pollution, bioaccumulation, invasive species, extraction activities, river inflows and supplies of sediments and nutrients, hypoxia, pH, warming, etc.) on coastal and marine biodiversity and ecosystems condition (biotic communities, structure, biotope, and functions),
  4. Increase understanding of the biological mechanisms determining the response of organisms and ecosystems to environmental changes (including components of stability, such as resistance, resilience and recovery), as well as the limits of their response adaptation capacity (tipping points), and the implications for the management of aquatic areas, habitats and species,
  5. Employ state‐of‐the‐art biologging technology and molecular methods, in combination with knowledge on oceanographic processes to understand the effects of agents of change on the ecology and population dynamics through different levels of marine food webs,
  6. Rationalise and advance strategies for monitoring European populations of marine species at the top of food chains, especially those that can indicate important changes in the oceanic environment, and have life histories that make them especially susceptible to change,
  7. Integrate existing and new biodiversity data and knowledge from multiple origins, including other EU (Horizon 2020 and previous framework Programmes), international and national research projects, 8) Develop technologies, methods and models to quantify and forecast how cumulative anthropogenic perturbations can affect ecosystem’s sustainability, productivity and resilience against environmental stressors, and
  8. Enhance awareness and understanding of links between marine biodiversity, ecosystem functioning and human health through capacity building, public outreach and by creating decision‐support tools for regulators to choose the best, context‐dependent indicators of (and actions to restore) good environmental status.

EII role

Spatial-temporal ecosystem modelling, indicator development, mass-execution of marine ecosystem model for systematic assessments – the stuff that the world needs to make marine ecosystem models operational