Restoration in freshwater ecosystems – taking climate change into account

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Leonard Sandin

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Humans are dominant bioengineers that dictate the form, function, goods, and services of freshwater resources across the globe. Freshwater systems are also among the most highly impacted ecosystems globally. Humanity uses over 50% of all accessible freshwater runoff and species diversity losses in freshwaters are greater than for terrestrial or marine systems. This is a resource that is globally rare (i.e. <1% of earth’s surface). Climate change will interact with current stressors, further disrupting freshwater ecosystems and the goods and services they provide. However, climate change means more variability, which will occur unpredictably. Its interaction with current stressors is locally unpredictable, and the ecosystems and species themselves show large variation in capacity to cope with or adapt to this stress. Providing ecosystems the best chance to adapt should be the best strategy to ensure freshwater goods and services. This means conservation and connectivity in pristine areas but focusing management on current and past stressors (i.e. eutrophication, acidification, connectivity, flow regime) in impacted areas. At a national level, we categorized and mapped water types according to their sensitivity and likely exposure to climate change, degree of present impact, current protection, and location. The results systematize water types and their threats in order to focus management actions and restoration at local and regional scales. Part of this management is accepting that change will occur and forming realistic restoration goals under a changing climate.

Resource Type:
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

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Society for Ecological Restoration