Food webs are the backbones of healthy ecosystems providing sustainable goods and services. They are essential for energy and matter cycling, viable populations and stocks, and buffering human impacts. The EU MSFD and CFP consequently call for better integration of food web characteristics in resource management. Knowledge on Baltic Sea food webs has grown exponentially, not least through the targeted efforts of BONUS. However, integration and transfer of this knowledge into management is lagging behind. Also, crucial knowledge gaps remain or have become evident. BONUS and Baltic food web science thus stand at a crossroad: decisions are needed on where to direct future research effort, and how to best make use of the wealth of information in ecosystem based management.
BONUS XWEBS will provide the scientific underpinning for these decisions by i) synthesizing what we know and need to know about Baltic Sea food webs, ii) assessing bottlenecks in the application of this knowledge, and iii) providing future perspectives for the Baltic food web science. The multidisciplinary consortium is joined by a network of affiliated partners and relevant stakeholders, to cover food web structure and function, all trophic levels, multiple drivers, across space and time. XWEBS takes stock of what we know and assists in the development of the vision where we should go from here, to ensure knowledge based management, GES, and sustainable use of the Baltic Searesources and ecosystem services.