State of the Arctic Freshwater Biodiversity Report: About

The State of the Arctic Freshwater Biodiversity Report (SAFBR) is a synthesis of the state of knowledge about biodiversity in Arctic freshwater ecosystems, detectable changes, and important gaps in our ability to assess biodiversity across a number of Focal Ecosystem Components (FECs): fish, benthic macroinvertebrates, zooplankton,  planktonic algae, diatoms (algae), and macrophytes. The overall goal of the SAFBR is to assess the current status and trends of freshwater biodiversity of FECs across the Arctic on a circumpolar scale.

Algae from Benthic Samples


C. Kathleen RuhlandC. Kathleen Ruhland Achnanthidium minutissimum. photo: Chris CarterAchnanthidium minutissimum. photo: Chris Carter



Water milfoil. Photo: Mps197/Shutterstock.comWater milfoil. Photo: Mps197/ Daphnia longispina. Photo Dieter Ebert, Basel SwitzerlandDaphnia longispina. Photo Dieter Ebert, Basel Switzerland

Benthic Macroinvertebrates


Ephemeroptera and Heptageniidae. Photo: Jan HamrskyEphemeroptera and Heptageniidae. Photo: Jan Hamrsky Arctic Charr. Photo: Dan Bach Kristensen/Shutterstock.comArctic Charr. Photo: Dan Bach Kristensen/

The SAFBR represents the first circumpolar assessment of freshwater biodiversity across the Arctic. By compiling available information, the report provides an important first step to identify knowledge gaps in circumpolar biodiversity monitoring efforts. 

The SAFBR builds on the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment and is an important first step towards better understanding and management of our living resources in the Arctic freshwater environment. It helps understand the limitations of what existing biodiversity monitoring is able to tell us about the Arctic environment and provides a path forward for improving knowledge.

Freshwater ecosystems are closely connected to the surrounding landscape, and climate change and land-use alterations. Freshwater ecosystems are closely connected to the surrounding landscape, and climate change and land-use alterations affect their physical, chemical and biological conditions. Rivers and lakes host diverse communities of microscopic plankton, plants, invertebrates, and fish which are interrelated in food webs. Changes affecting these populations actas indicators of human-induced disturbances to the ecosystem. Freshwaters also provide important ecosystem services, such as drinking water, fish production, and hydropower, which makes them key elements in Arctic landscapes.

The SAFBR, is a product of the Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program (CBMP) of the Arctic Council’s Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) Working Group.



Authors and Acknowledgements

Attendees at a Freshwater meeting in Hvalso, Denmark. Photo: CAFF

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