Browsing All Posts filed under »ecosystems«

Springs – neglected ecosystems

March 26, 2022

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Springs can be defined as places on the Earth’s surface that are influenced by the exposure, and often the flow, of groundwater.  They support biodiverse ecosystems and have socioeconomic value as sources of water for drinking, agriculture, industry and recreation, , but they are often  highly vulnerable to human disturbance, such as groundwater depletion,  pollution, […]

To be continued: the legacy of the River Continuum Concept

December 14, 2021

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A recent review examined the historical importance of the River Continuum Concept (RCC), which was introduced by Robin Vannote and co-workers in 1980.  This concept revolutionised stream ecology research by prompting a shift from a descriptive to a predictive approach and encouraging multidisciplinary collaboration between biologists, geomorphologists and geochemists.  The RCC became a key framework […]

Lake management: are tipping points real?

December 14, 2021

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Freshwater biologists often seek to restore turbid shallow lakes dominated by phytoplankton to clear-water systems with a high abundance of submerged plants.  The usual plan of operation, which is often guided by lake ecosystem modelling, is to reduce external inputs of nutrients (e.g., from agricultural runoff or urban waste streams) to a threshold level at […]

Guidelines for conserving groundwater ecosystems

December 14, 2021

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Aquatic groundwater-dependent ecosystems include subsurface aquifers, springs, seepage wetlands and other groundwater-fed surface waters.  Their biodiversity is high: for example, in Europe around 13% of all freshwater animal species are found only in groundwater.  Many of these species are rare, with limited distributions, and some are “living fossils”.  Groundwater species deliver ecosystem services by recycling […]

Restoration of urban headwaters pays dividends

September 28, 2021

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Because urban streams are often ecologically degraded as a result of channelisation and pollution, restoration work is often attempted to improve ecosystem structure and function.  This usually involves remodelling of the stream channel.  Knowing that there are predictable shifts in ecosystem processes between headwater streams and the main body of the river, American ecologists investigated […]

A game changer: measuring biodiversity from water samples

June 7, 2021

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What are the processes and mechanisms that underpin biodiversity, and how is biodiversity related to ecosystem function?  There’s a need for answers to these questions with respect to all ecosystems, but it’s arguably most urgent for freshwater systems, which show the largest loss of biodiversity as a result of human pressures.  Ideally, to recognise the […]

What do bioindicators really indicate?

June 7, 2021

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There have been many attempts to find environmental measures that can be used as reliable indicators of disturbance in freshwater ecosystems, and proposed measures are often based on features of fish and macroinvertebrate communities, such as species richness, diversity, feeding styles and life history patterns.  While such metrics should ideally be robust enough for general […]

How rivers regulate fish numbers

June 7, 2021

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Recruitment processes, which determine the number of young animals entering a  population each year, are central considerations in our attempts to understand fluctuations in abundance.  Although recruitment has been a key focus of fisheries scientists for many years, most of their work has involved marine fish species, and there’s been no fully integrated and comprehensive […]

Biodiversity offsets: compliance doesn’t guarantee ecosystem function

March 13, 2021

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When human activities impair habitats and reduce biodiversity, environmental offsets, such as the creation of new wetlands and the planting of native vegetation, can help to preserve ecosystem function and services.  However, the success of offsetting projects depends on the extent to which the required measures are complied with, and compliance is often poor.  This […]

Are there more species in permanent waters?

December 16, 2020

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How important is the influence of permanent water on the biodiversity of lakes, ponds and wetlands? Because many freshwater habitats dry out on a regular basis, to survive under such conditions organisms need to be able to exist as terrestrial adults or dormant stages, or to migrate to more permanent water bodies.  Despite these challenges, […]