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Anthropogenic Changes in a Mediterranean Coastal Wetland during the Last Century—The Case of Gialova Lagoon, Messinia, Greece

1
Department of Physical Geography, Stockholm University, 10691 Stockholm, Sweden
2
Navarino Environmental Observatory, 24001 SW Messinia, Greece
3
Hellenic Ornithological Society, 10681 Athens, Greece
4
Bolin Centre for Climate Research, 10691 Stockholm, Sweden
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2019, 11(2), 350; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11020350
Received: 16 December 2018 / Revised: 5 February 2019 / Accepted: 12 February 2019 / Published: 19 February 2019
Human interventions during the last 70 years have altered the characteristics of the Gialova Lagoon, a coastal wetland that is part of a wider Natura 2000 site. In this study, we explore how human interventions and climate altered the wetland’s hydrological conditions and habitats, leading to changing wetland functions over time. Our interpretations are based on a mixed methodological approach combining conceptual hydrologic models, analysis of aerial photographs, local knowledge, field observations, and GIS (Geographic Information System) analyses. The results show that the combined effects of human interventions and climate have led to increased salinity in the wetland over time. As a result, the fresh and brackish water marshes have gradually been turned into open water or replaced by halophytic vegetation with profound ecological implications. Furthermore, current human activities inside the Natura 2000 area and in the surrounding areas could further impact on the water quantity and quality in the wetland, and on its sensitive ecosystems. We suggest that a more holistic understanding of the broader socio-ecological system is needed to understand the dynamics of the wetland and to achieve sustainable long-term management and conservation strategies. View Full-Text
Keywords: wetland; human interventions; Mediterranean climate; hydrology; salinity; land use/land cover change; vegetation; agriculture; tourism; Natura 2000 wetland; human interventions; Mediterranean climate; hydrology; salinity; land use/land cover change; vegetation; agriculture; tourism; Natura 2000
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Maneas, G.; Makopoulou, E.; Bousbouras, D.; Berg, H.; Manzoni, S. Anthropogenic Changes in a Mediterranean Coastal Wetland during the Last Century—The Case of Gialova Lagoon, Messinia, Greece. Water 2019, 11, 350.

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