Climate change represents a major threat to lotic freshwater ecosystems and their ability to support the provision of ecosystem services. England’s chalk streams are in a poor state of health, with significant concerns regarding their resilience, the ability to adapt, under a changing climate. This paper aims to quantify the effect of climate change on hydroecological response for the River Nar, south-east England. To this end, we apply a coupled hydrological and hydroecological modelling framework, with the UK probabilistic climate projections 2009 (UKCP09) weather generator serving as input (CMIP3 A1B high emissions scenario, 2021 to the end-of-century). The results indicate a minimal change in the long-term mean hydroecological response over this period. In terms of interannual variability, the median hydroecological response is subject to increased uncertainty, whilst lower probability extremes are virtually certain
to become more homogeneous (assuming a high emissions scenario). A functional matrix, relating species-level macroinvertebrate functional flow preferences to functional food groups reveals that, on the baseline, under extreme conditions, key groups are underrepresented. To date, despite this limited range, the River Nar has been able to adapt to extreme events due to interannual variation. In the future, this variation is greatly reduced, raising real concerns over the resilience of the river ecosystem, and chalk ecosystems more generally, under climate change.
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