Pan European Networks - Horizon 2020 - page 168

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I S S U E S I X
H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L
P R O F I L E
S O C I E TA L C H A L L E N G E S : E N V I R O N M E N T
F
reshwater invertebrates are among the most important
indicators of global change. Invertebrate communities are
fundamental for the biodiversity and functioning of stream
ecosystems. They constitute intermediate links between basal
resources (algae, riparian allochthonous organic matter) and top
predators such as fish, fuelling matter and energy to higher levels
in a stream’s food webs. Human impacts deteriorate stream
ecosystem integrity, modifying the natural environment, stream
resources and the consumers depending on them, ultimately
changing aquatic biodiversity and organism abundance. European
rivers and streams are highly impacted by human activities, and it
is a priority to restore their environmental robustness in the face
of predicted influences of global change so as to ensure good
water quality and quantity and the maintenance of biodiversity
and ecosystem functioning.
We study invertebrates in non-impacted and
impacted streams
Our team focuses its research on the study of interactions
between invertebrates and the environment. Our research aims to
identify and quantify the role of invertebrates in their natural
stream habitats and to assess their sensitivity in response to
human-induced changes in the environment.We integrate
information at the basin level on the spatiotemporal distribution
of invertebrate species and communities and their accompanying
environmental conditions.We quantify human pressures’ influence
to identify minimally impaired basins, where we can understand
natural trends in invertebrate communities, and impacted basins
with specific pressure influence.
1
Our invertebrate models classify
the ecological status (Water Framework Directive, 2000/60/EC),
assessing how different communities are impacted in comparison
with the expected non-disturbed communities along gradients of
disturbance
2,3
– new techniques providing information on
confidence in water body status classifications for environmental
objectives (good ecological status).
Past and present: always bioindicators, but better
research is needed to understand responses
Historically, invertebrates have been used as bioindicators of water
quality – initially for their sensitivity to organic pollution-driven
dissolved oxygen deficits. Today, stream invertebrates are faced
with a growing number of stressors, including pollution,
hydromorphological alteration, water abstraction and regulation,
water quality and emerging specific pollutants. Stream
impairment from multiple stressors can have interactive effects
that are difficult to predict, presenting a considerable challenge as
we try to foresee changes to stream ecosystems and develop
adaptive management strategies in the face of climate change.
Understanding of the mechanisms by which stressors alone or in
combination influence invertebrate community structure is
complex. It requires better understanding of species and
community level responses to pressures whose effects still need
to be addressed and quantified. Predictive models are important
tools to detect multiple directional shifts in community
composition and biodiversity in response to single or multiple
combined pressures,
2
because community structure is not
constrained by
a priori
selection of biological responses to
specific pressures.
Protecting and restoring environmental objectives
The understanding of causality relationships between drivers/
pressures and changes in biodiversity, influencing ecosystem
function and services, is a major challenge for scientists and
water managers. This knowledge is at the basis of informing and
facilitating ecologically sustainable water management and of the
adoption of effective restoration measures in complex, dynamic
and changing environments.
References
1
Pardo I, Gómez-Rodríguez C,Wasson J G, Owen R, van de Bund W, Kelly M,
Bennett C, Birk S, Buffagni A, Erba S, Mengin N, Murray-Bligh J, and Ofenböeck
G (2012): The European reference condition concept: A scientific and technical
approach to identify minimally impacted river ecosystems.
The Science of Total
Environment,
420: 33-42
2
Pardo I, Gómez-Rodríguez C,Abraín R, García-Roselló E, and Reynoldson T B
(2014): An invertebrate predictive model (NORTI) for streams and rivers:
Sensitivity of the model in detecting stress gradients.
Ecological Indicators,
45: 51-62
3
García L, Pardo I, and Delgado C (2014): Invertebrate communities as
indicators of ecological status in Mediterranean temporary streams.
Ecological
Indicators,
45: 650-663
Professor Isabel Pardo
Research Group Leader
Limnology
Departamento de Ecología y BiologíaAnimal
UniversidadedeVigo
te l :
+34 986 812585
Understanding pressure-impact relationships in stream ecosystems is critical for
their management; Isabel Pardo’s group explores the invertebrate response to
environmental stress
Invertebrate stress response
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