PRIDE (Drivers of Biodiversity RIse and DEmise) is an EU funded Innovative Training Network (ITN) that trains 15 early stage researchers (ESRs) over a period of 4 years. We study the evolution of unique Pontocaspian lake biota (molluscs, ostracods and dinoflagellates) in the Caspian Sea-Black Sea region integrating climate, geology and biological approaches. Effective and efficient outreach is an integral part of the PRIDE ITN that engaged all ESRs in the formulation of this plan. The result is an outreach plan that identified stakeholder target groups, developed an outreach strategy and describes pilot studies proposed by ESRs. This document will be at the basis of all outreach activities by program participants for the period 2016-2019. This document was approved by the Supervisory Board and the Scientific Advisory Board in October 2016. “To raise awareness of the unique and diverse Pontocaspian biota, to understand their role in ecosystems and to mitigate their demise” is the main message of the PRIDE programme. The Pontocaspian area has a unique and spectacular geological history that has produced an abundance of endemic Pontocaspian biota (molluscs, ostracods and dinoflagellates) over millions of years. Some of them survive today, but many have also gone extinct as results of natural but dramatic changes in their environment. At present, these unique endemic biota are threatened by anthropogenic factors of pollution, aquatic infrastructures, fisheries, climate change, invasive species, etc. This is causing extinctions right now and what will remain is an impoverished fauna. An impoverished fauna is more vulnerable to catastrophic events, i.e. one disease can decimate entire populations. This is not only a problem for the mollusc fauna, but also the food chain as a whole. One disastrous event can have a cascading effect through the entire food pyramid. Therefore it is of the utmost importance to understand, protect and conserve the diversity of the Pontocaspian fauna. For each of five stakeholder groups the PRIDE project has developed specific messages and devised appropriate means to reach out at different levels of engagement. The first stakeholder group represents the scientific community including scientist and employees at academia, governmental and non-governmental organisations in the Pontocaspian region that will be reached through our partner institutes and associated partners, but PRIDE is also open to further participation with the wider scientific community. PRIDE will reach out to the general public, the EU and ‘Pontocaspian’ citizens with an interest in nature conservation through communication of the main PRIDE message, and with a more detailed approach towards organisations and citizens in the coastal areas of the Danube delta in both Romania and Ukraine. Additionally, two specific stakeholder groups were identified, namely port authorities in the Caspian Sea (for the so-called green port agenda) and the mollusc specialist group of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in order to seek wider impact of our work on threatened Pontocaspian biota. The PRIDE outreach program uses three online tools to support its outreach activities: the PRIDE project website, the Pontocaspian taxonomic platform (PC-TAX - and the interactive Pontocaspian information system (PC-IS – to be launched in 2018). This outreach plan outlines our activities for the remainder of the PRIDE program (2016-2019). This version has been discussed with ESRs and external experts in Reading (August 2016) and has been approved by the Supervisory Board and the Scientific Advisory Board (November 2016). MSCA-ITN-2014-ETN, grant agreement no 642973

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Staff publications

Wesselingh, F., Gogaladze, A., van Impelen, C., & Raes, N. (2016, January). Drivers of Pontocaspian Biodiversity RIse and DEmise / PRIDE.