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Development of innovative tools for understanding marine biodiversity and assessing good environmental status (DEVOTES)


The overall goal of DEVOTES was to better understand the relationships between pressures from human activities and climatic influences and their effects on marine ecosystems, including biological diversity, in order to support the ecosystem based management and fully achieve the Good Environmental Status (GES) of marine waters, according to MSFD requirements. This overall goal was articulated in the following main objectives of the project:

  • Improve the understanding of the impacts (cumulative, synergistic, antagonistic) of human activities and climate change on marine biodiversity, also using long-term series (pelagic and benthic).
  • Identify barriers and bottlenecks preventing Good Environmental Status from being achieved.
  • Test indicators proposed by the EC for the status classification of marine waters and develop new, innovative ones to assess biodiversity in a harmonized way throughout the four regional seas of the EU.
  • Develop, test and validate innovative integrative modelling and monitoring tools to further improve the understanding of ecosystem and biodiversity changes (in time and space), for integration into a unique and holistic assessment. Biodiversity assessment tool developed during the DEVOTES project have been tested on eight selected pilot areas: Gulf of Finland, Kattegat, Southern North Sea, Bay of Biscay, Adriatic Sea, Eastern Aegean Sea, Sea of Marmara, and Western open Black Sea.
  • Propose and disseminate strategies and measures for ecosystems’ adaptive management, including the active role of industry and relevant stakeholders.

In particular, DEVOTES addresses three main challenges in determining environmental status: (i) assessment of anthropogenic pressures, including climate change, to which biodiversity responds; (ii) selection of appropriate indicators to assess the status; and (iii) integration of those indicators across a number of ecological scales, into a unique biodiversity assessment framework. Project objectives are achieved through the activities carried out within seven operational work packages: Human pressures and climate change (WP1), Social-economic implications for achieving GES (WP2), Indicator testing and development (WP3), Innovative modelling tools (WP4), Innovative monitoring techniques (WP5), Integrative assessment of biodiversity (WP6), Outreach, stakeholder engagement and product dissemination (WP7).

DEVOTES has developed the technology that allows to assess the environmental status of our seas. NEAT (“Nested Environmental status Assessment Tool” is a biodiversity assessment tool used for assessing the environmental status of marine areas according to the European Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). It includes the DEVOTool and uses 600 different indicators from biodiversity, presence of non-indigenous species, commercial fishing, food-webs, eutrophication, and sea-floor integrity, to different ecosystem components like bacteria, plankton, fish or seabirds to give a holistic assessment of the sea. Furthermore, DEVOTES achieved a world-first in evaluating the health of marine bacterial communities. The project has contributed significantly to monitoring the environmental status of our seas, which is crucial to the sustainability of marine ecosystems.

Project information


AZTI Tecnalia (ES)


Norwegian Institute for Air Research – NILU (NO), Finnish Environment Institute – SYKE (FI), Aarhus University (DK), University of Hull – Institute of Estuarine and Coastal Study (UK), The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – CEFAS (UK), Plymouth Marine Laboratory (UK), MARE Marine and Environmental Science Centre (PT), Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Institute of Oceanology – IO-BAS (BG), Joint Research Centre of the European Commission – JRC-EC, Hellenic Centre for Marine Research – HCMR (EL), Klaipeda University, Coastal Research and Planning Institute (LT), Akvaplan-Niva (NO), National Inter-university Consortium for Marine Sciences – CONISMA (IT), NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NL), Spanish National Research Council – CSIC (ES), Dokuz Eylul University (TR), Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences, Marine Hydrophysical Institute (UA), Aquatic Research GmbH (DE), National Center for Scientific Research – CNRS (FR), OceanDTM (UK), Ecoreach srl (IT), King Abdullah University of Science and Technology – KAUST (SA).

Source of funding

EC Seventh Framework Programme (FP7)

Published in Climate-ADAPT Jun 07 2016   -   Last Modified in Climate-ADAPT Sep 10 2022

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