Header

UZH-Logo

Maintenance Infos

The recovery of European freshwater biodiversity has come to a halt


Abstract

Owing to a long history of anthropogenic pressures, freshwater ecosystems are among the most vulnerable to biodiversity loss$^{1}$. Mitigation measures, including wastewater treatment and hydromorphological restoration, have aimed to improve environmental quality and foster the recovery of freshwater biodiversity$^{2}$. Here, using 1,816 time series of freshwater invertebrate communities collected across 22 European countries between 1968 and 2020, we quantified temporal trends in taxonomic and functional diversity and their responses to environmental pressures and gradients. We observed overall increases in taxon richness (0.73% per year), functional richness (2.4% per year) and abundance (1.17% per year). However, these increases primarily occurred before the 2010s, and have since plateaued. Freshwater communities downstream of dams, urban areas and cropland were less likely to experience recovery. Communities at sites with faster rates of warming had fewer gains in taxon richness, functional richness and abundance. Although biodiversity gains in the 1990s and 2000s probably reflect the effectiveness of water-quality improvements and restoration projects, the decelerating trajectory in the 2010s suggests that the current measures offer diminishing returns. Given new and persistent pressures on freshwater ecosystems, including emerging pollutants, climate change and the spread of invasive species, we call for additional mitigation to revive the recovery of freshwater biodiversity.

Abstract

Owing to a long history of anthropogenic pressures, freshwater ecosystems are among the most vulnerable to biodiversity loss$^{1}$. Mitigation measures, including wastewater treatment and hydromorphological restoration, have aimed to improve environmental quality and foster the recovery of freshwater biodiversity$^{2}$. Here, using 1,816 time series of freshwater invertebrate communities collected across 22 European countries between 1968 and 2020, we quantified temporal trends in taxonomic and functional diversity and their responses to environmental pressures and gradients. We observed overall increases in taxon richness (0.73% per year), functional richness (2.4% per year) and abundance (1.17% per year). However, these increases primarily occurred before the 2010s, and have since plateaued. Freshwater communities downstream of dams, urban areas and cropland were less likely to experience recovery. Communities at sites with faster rates of warming had fewer gains in taxon richness, functional richness and abundance. Although biodiversity gains in the 1990s and 2000s probably reflect the effectiveness of water-quality improvements and restoration projects, the decelerating trajectory in the 2010s suggests that the current measures offer diminishing returns. Given new and persistent pressures on freshwater ecosystems, including emerging pollutants, climate change and the spread of invasive species, we call for additional mitigation to revive the recovery of freshwater biodiversity.

Statistics

Citations

Dimensions.ai Metrics
45 citations in Web of Science®
55 citations in Scopus®
Google Scholar™

Altmetrics

Downloads

1 download since deposited on 24 Jan 2024
1 download since 12 months
Detailed statistics

Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:590 Animals (Zoology)
570 Life sciences; biology
Scopus Subject Areas:Health Sciences > Multidisciplinary
Uncontrolled Keywords:Multidisciplinary
Language:English
Date:17 August 2023
Deposited On:24 Jan 2024 08:47
Last Modified:30 Jun 2024 01:37
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:0028-0836
OA Status:Hybrid
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-023-06400-1
PubMed ID:37558875
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant IDPP00P3_179089
  • : Project TitleBridging biodiversity and ecosystem functioning: a meta-ecosystem perspective
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)