CS7 Publication Ecological assessment of river networks: From reach to catchment scale

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Last Updated 27 September 2018, 09:57 (Europe/Berlin)
Created 27 September 2018, 09:52 (Europe/Berlin)
E-mail mathias.kuemmerlen@eawag.ch; peter.reichert@eawag.ch; rosi.siber@eawag.ch; nele.schuwirth@eawag.ch
Language Eng
Original language English
Abstract Freshwater ecosystems are increasingly under threat as they are confronted with multiple anthropogenic impairments. This calls for comprehensive management strategies to counteract, or even prevent, long-term impacts on habitats and their biodiversity, as well as on their ecological functions and services. The basis for the efficient management and effective conservation of any ecosystem is sufficient knowledge on the state of the system and its response to external influence factors. In freshwater ecosystems, state information is currently drawn from ecological assessments at the reach or site scale. While these assessments are essential, they are not sufficient to assess the expected outcome of different river restoration strategies, because they do not account for important characteristics of the whole river network, such as habitat connectivity or headwater reachability. This is of particular importance for the spatial prioritization of restoration measures. River restoration could be supported best by integrative catchment-scale ecological assessments that are sensitive to the spatial arrangement of river reaches and barriers. Assessments at this scale are of increasing interest to environmental managers and conservation practitioners to prioritize restoration measures or to locate areas worth protecting. We present an approach based on decision support methods that integrates abiotic and biotic ecological assessments at the reach-scale and aggregates them spatially to describe the ecological state of entire catchments. This aggregation is based on spatial criteria that represent important ecological catchment properties, such as fish migration potential, resilience, fragmentation and habitat diversity in a spatially explicit way. We identify the most promising assessment criteria from different alternatives based on theoretical considerations and a comparison with biological indicators. Potential applications are discussed, particularly for supporting the strategic, long-term planning and spatial prioritization of restoration measures.
Classification Inland waters
Creation date 2018-09-27
Publication date 2019-02-10
Free keywords Ecological state assessment, Morphology, Nutrients, Micropollutants, Restoration strategy, Environmental management
Responsible party Organisation: Eawag
Email: mathias.kuemmerlen@eawag.ch; peter.reichert@eawag.ch; rosi.siber@eawag.ch; nele.schuwirth@eawag.ch
Role: Author
Spatial extent - North 47.8
Spatial extent - South 46.13
Spatial extent - East 9.67
Spatial extent - West 5.96

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