With this initiative BioFresh provides a unique baseline knowledge of parasite biodiversity in the freshwater systems in Europe. This is achieved by compiling a publicly available, web-accessible database that integrates distributional and ecological information on all species of the most abundant parasite groups in the European freshwater environments, which will be useful for the progress of ecological studies on parasitism. The database represents published species-level information on host-parasite-locality records for parasites of macroinvertebrates and fishes. The respective information is digitised and synthesised; this includes translation into English of a number of publications. Furthermore, species data are be linked to DNA barcodes (where available) as an aid for parasite identification.
The resulting database will be superior to the databases currently holding some information on freshwater parasites as it will provide detailed geo-referenced data on parasite distribution. The detailed distribution data allow screening parasite biodiversity over large areas and may result in development of advanced protocols for monitoring ecosystem changes using the freshwater host-parasite systems. For certain groups, the data compilation has been already finalised: Cestoda (3,358 records, resulting from 340 references), Digenea (6,929 records, resulting from 164 references).