Special Issue "Biological Communities Respond to Multiple Human-Induced Aquatic Environment Change"

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Water Quality and Ecosystems".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2017).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Marina Manca
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
CNR ISE, 28048 Verbania Pallanza, Italy
Tel. +39 (0)323518300
Interests: zooplankton ecology; lakes, ecosystem functioning; Anthropocene; climate change; climate and trophy
Dr. Roberta Piscia
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
CNR ISE, Rome, Italy
Tel. +39 (0)323518300
Interests: ecology of freshwater zooplankton and analysis of zooplankton resting stages in lacustrine sediments
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Perturbations linked to the direct and indirect impacts of human activities during the so-called Anthropocene, affect the structure and functioning of aquatic ecosystems to varying degrees. Some of these events stress aquatic life, including soil and water acidification, soil erosion, loss of base cations, release of trace metals or organic compounds, and application of essential nutrients capable of stimulating primary productivity. Superimposed on these changes, climate warming directly impacts aquatic environments via altering species’ metabolic processes, and indirectly by modifying food web interactions. Many stressors interact in a manner that can be difficult to predict. In part, this difficulty arises from the different possible responses by species or entire taxonomic groups to stressors, which may interact additively, synergistically or antagonistically. Entire food webs can be restructured if different trophic levels have consistently different responses to climate warming. However, the consequences of warming-induced changes in food web structure for the long-term population dynamics of different trophic levels remain poorly understood. Such changes may be particularly important to understand in lakes, where food web production is socio-economically important and most organisms are ectotherms that are highly sensitive to changes in their surrounding environment. To understand the degree and mechanisms through which stressors impact lakes biological communities and alter ecosystem, functioning long-term analyses by means of contemporary and palaeo data are essential. Due to its remarkable physical inertia, including thermal stability, global warming is expected to also have a profound effect on groundwater ecosystems. The degree to which alterations can affect aquatic ecosystem structure and functioning also requires the addressing of functional diversity at the molecular level, to reconstruct the role different species play in  the transfer of material and energy through the food web. In this Special Issue, we will present examples of the impact of different stressors on aqautic ecosystems and their interactions, providing long-term, metabolic, molecular and paleolimnological analyses.

Dr. Marina Manca
Dr. Roberta Piscia
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Aquatic communities
  • ecosystem functioning
  • anthropocene
  • climate
  • trophy
  • pollutants
  • long-term changes
  • plankton

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Ammonium Transformation in 14 Lakes along a Trophic Gradient
Water 2018, 10(3), 265; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10030265 - 03 Mar 2018
Cited by 3
Abstract
Ammonia is a widespread pollutant in aquatic ecosystems originating directly and indirectly from human activities, which can strongly affect the structure and functioning of the aquatic foodweb. The biological oxidation of NH4+ to nitrite, and then nitrate is a key part [...] Read more.
Ammonia is a widespread pollutant in aquatic ecosystems originating directly and indirectly from human activities, which can strongly affect the structure and functioning of the aquatic foodweb. The biological oxidation of NH4+ to nitrite, and then nitrate is a key part of the complex nitrogen cycle and a fundamental process in aquatic environments, having a profound influence on ecosystem stability and functionality. Environmental studies have shown that our current knowledge of physical and chemical factors that control this process and the abundance and function of involved microorganisms are not entirely understood. In this paper, the efficiency and the transformation velocity of ammonium into oxidised compounds in 14 south-alpine lakes in northern Italy, with a similar origin, but different trophic levels, are compared with lab-scale experimentations (20 °C, dark, oxygen saturation) that are performed in artificial microcosms (4 L). The water samples were collected in different months to highlight the possible effect of seasonality on the development of the ammonium oxidation process. In four-liter microcosms, concentrations were increased by 1 mg/L NH4+ and the process of ammonium oxidation was constantly monitored. The time elapsed for the decrease of 25% and 95% of the initial ion ammonium concentration and the rate for that ammonium oxidation were evaluated. Principal Component Analysis and General Linear Model, performed on 56 observations and several chemical and physical parameters, highlighted the important roles of total phosphorus and nitrogen concentrations on the commencement of the oxidation process. Meanwhile, the natural concentration of ammonium influenced the rate of nitrification (µg NH4+/L day). Seasonality did not seem to significantly affect the ammonium transformation. The results highlight the different vulnerabilities of lakes with different trophic statuses. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Effects of Water Level Increase on Phytoplankton Assemblages in a Drinking Water Reservoir
Water 2018, 10(3), 256; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10030256 - 02 Mar 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
Excessive water level fluctuation may affect physico-chemical characteristics, and consequently ecosystem function, in lakes and reservoirs. In this study, we assessed the changes of phytoplankton assemblages in response to water level increase in Danjiangkou Reservoir, one of the largest drinking water reservoirs in [...] Read more.
Excessive water level fluctuation may affect physico-chemical characteristics, and consequently ecosystem function, in lakes and reservoirs. In this study, we assessed the changes of phytoplankton assemblages in response to water level increase in Danjiangkou Reservoir, one of the largest drinking water reservoirs in Asia. The water level increased from a low of 137 m to 161 m in 2014 as a part of the South–North Water Diversion Project. Phytoplankton assemblages were sampled four times per year before, during and after the water level increase, at 10 sites. Environmental variables such as total nitrogen as well as phytoplankton biomass decreased after the water level increase. Non-metric multi-dimensional scaling analysis indicated that before the water level increase, phytoplankton assemblages showed distinct seasonal variation with diatom dominance in both early and late seasons while such seasonal variation was much less evident after the water level increase. Month and year (before and after) explained 13% and 6% of variance in phytoplankton assemblages (PERMANOVA, p < 0.001) respectively, and phytoplankton assemblages were significantly different before and after the water level increase. Both chlorophytes and cyanobacteria became more abundant in 2015. Phytoplankton compositional change may largely reflect the environmental changes, such as hydrodynamics mediated by the water level increase. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Defining Seasonal Functional Traits of a Freshwater Zooplankton Community Using δ13C and δ15N Stable Isotope Analysis
Water 2018, 10(2), 108; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10020108 - 27 Jan 2018
Cited by 4
Abstract
Functional-based approaches are increasingly being used to define the functional diversity of aquatic ecosystems. In this study, we proposed the use of δ13C and δ15N stable isotopes as a proxy of zooplankton functional traits in Lake Maggiore, a large, [...] Read more.
Functional-based approaches are increasingly being used to define the functional diversity of aquatic ecosystems. In this study, we proposed the use of δ13C and δ15N stable isotopes as a proxy of zooplankton functional traits in Lake Maggiore, a large, deep subalpine Italian lake. We analyzed the seasonal pattern of δ13C and δ15N signatures of different crustacean zooplankton taxa to determine food sources, preferred habitats, and trophic positions of species throughout one year. The cladocerans Daphnia longispina galeata gr., Diaphanosoma brachyurum, and Eubosmina longispina were grouped into a primary consumer functional group from their δ13C and δ15N isotopic signatures, but while the former two species shared the same food sources, the latter exhibited a more selective feeding strategy. Cyclopoid copepods occupied a distinct functional group from the other secondary consumers, being the most 15N enriched group in the lake. The δ15N signature of calanoid copepods showed trophic enrichment in comparison to Daphnia and Eubosmina and linear mixing model results confirmed a predator-prey relationship. In our study, we have demonstrated that the use of δ13C and δ15N stable isotopes represented an effective tool to define ecological roles of freshwater zooplankton species and to determine functional diversity in a lake. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Carbon and Nitrogen Isotopic Signatures of Zooplankton Taxa in Five Small Subalpine Lakes along a Trophic Gradient
Water 2018, 10(1), 94; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10010094 - 22 Jan 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
Interest in Stable Isotopes Analyses (SIA) is increasing in freshwater ecology to better clarify ecosystems’ functioning. By measuring carbon and nitrogen isotopic signatures, food sources and organism trophic levels can be tracked, providing quantitative estimates of bi-dimensional niches. In order to describe some [...] Read more.
Interest in Stable Isotopes Analyses (SIA) is increasing in freshwater ecology to better clarify ecosystems’ functioning. By measuring carbon and nitrogen isotopic signatures, food sources and organism trophic levels can be tracked, providing quantitative estimates of bi-dimensional niches. In order to describe some general patterns of carbon and nitrogen stable isotope signatures in lakes, we applied SIA to zooplankton community in five subalpine lakes sampled in spring and summer along a trophic gradient (from oligotrophy to hypereutrophy). Within zooplankton taxa, temporal variation in food sources and trophic levels were compared to find out taxon-specific patterns. Carbon and nitrogen isotopic signatures differed among the five lakes, reflecting depth, topography, and trophic status of the lakes. Carbon isotopic signatures varied more considerably in deeper and larger lakes (Mergozzo and Pusiano) than in a shallower and smaller lake (Lake Endine). Nitrogen isotopic signatures were generally more enriched in lakes Pusiano and Moro than in Lake Mergozzo, whereas in summer, they were depleted in all lakes. These observations indicate that zooplankton taxa specific trophic roles differed among lakes and in time. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Sedimentary Record of Cladoceran Functionality under Eutrophication and Re-Oligotrophication in Lake Maggiore, Northern Italy
Water 2018, 10(1), 86; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10010086 - 19 Jan 2018
Cited by 4
Abstract
We examined fossil Cladocera (Crustacea) communities and their functional assemblages in a ~60-year sediment record from Lake Maggiore, northern Italy. Our main objective was to document the response of aquatic community functioning to environmental stress during eutrophication (1960–1985) and recovery (post-1985), and to [...] Read more.
We examined fossil Cladocera (Crustacea) communities and their functional assemblages in a ~60-year sediment record from Lake Maggiore, northern Italy. Our main objective was to document the response of aquatic community functioning to environmental stress during eutrophication (1960–1985) and recovery (post-1985), and to identify environmental controls on cladoceran functionality. Of the functional groups, large filter feeders and oval epibenthos thrived prior to eutrophication (reference conditions pre-1960) and globular epibenthos and small filter feeders increased during eutrophication and as the lake recovered. Multivariate analyses suggested that bottom-up controls (i.e., total phosphorus) were important for shaping functional assemblages but taxonomic community changes were likely related to top-down control by predators, particularly the predaceous cladoceran Bythotrephes longimanus. Functional diversity (FD) was higher and Daphnia ephippia length (DEL) larger during the reference and early eutrophication periods and decreased during eutrophication and recovery. Both FD (high) and DEL (large) were distinct during reference period, but were similar (FD low, DEL small) between the eutrophication and recovery periods. The functional attributes and the assemblages did not recover post-eutrophication, suggesting that the system exhibited a clear shift to low FD and dominance of small filterers. Cladoceran functionality appears to be related to fundamental ecosystem functions, such as productivity, and may thus provide insights for long-term changes in ecological resilience. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Bioassessment of a Drinking Water Reservoir Using Plankton: High Throughput Sequencing vs. Traditional Morphological Method
Water 2018, 10(1), 82; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10010082 - 18 Jan 2018
Cited by 4
Abstract
Drinking water safety is increasingly perceived as one of the top global environmental issues. Plankton has been commonly used as a bioindicator for water quality in lakes and reservoirs. Recently, DNA sequencing technology has been applied to bioassessment. In this study, we compared [...] Read more.
Drinking water safety is increasingly perceived as one of the top global environmental issues. Plankton has been commonly used as a bioindicator for water quality in lakes and reservoirs. Recently, DNA sequencing technology has been applied to bioassessment. In this study, we compared the effectiveness of the 16S and 18S rRNA high throughput sequencing method (HTS) and the traditional optical microscopy method (TOM) in the bioassessment of drinking water quality. Five stations reflecting different habitats and hydrological conditions in Danjiangkou Reservoir, one of the largest drinking water reservoirs in Asia, were sampled May 2016. Non-metric multi-dimensional scaling (NMDS) analysis showed that plankton assemblages varied among the stations and the spatial patterns revealed by the two methods were consistent. The correlation between TOM and HTS in a symmetric Procrustes analysis was 0.61, revealing overall good concordance between the two methods. Procrustes analysis also showed that site-specific differences between the two methods varied among the stations. Station Heijizui (H), a site heavily influenced by two tributaries, had the largest difference while station Qushou (Q), a confluence site close to the outlet dam, had the smallest difference between the two methods. Our results show that DNA sequencing has the potential to provide consistent identification of taxa, and reliable bioassessment in a long-term biomonitoring and assessment program for drinking water reservoirs. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Interspecific Relationship and Ecological Requirements of Two Potentially Harmful Cyanobacteria in a Deep South-Alpine Lake (L. Iseo, I)
Water 2017, 9(12), 993; https://doi.org/10.3390/w9120993 - 19 Dec 2017
Cited by 2
Abstract
In Lake Iseo (Lombardia, Italy), the predominant species in the cyanobacterial taxa was Planktothrix rubescens. However, since 2014, the presence of an allochthonous Cyanobacteria, Tychonema bourrellyi, able to produce consistent biomasses and harmful toxins, was detected. The causes of this expansion [...] Read more.
In Lake Iseo (Lombardia, Italy), the predominant species in the cyanobacterial taxa was Planktothrix rubescens. However, since 2014, the presence of an allochthonous Cyanobacteria, Tychonema bourrellyi, able to produce consistent biomasses and harmful toxins, was detected. The causes of this expansion are poorly understood. Many studies have linked the development of allochthonous Cyanobacteria populations with climate change. This study shows the spatio-temporal dynamics, the ecological requirements, and the interspecific relationship of P. rubescens and T. bourrellyi. Samples were collected monthly in 2016 at six different depths in the water column; 20 chemico-physical characteristics were measured; and Cyanobacteria density, morphology, and biovolume were evaluated. The results allowed a comparison of the spatial pattern of the two species, which showed a greater distribution at a depth of 10–20 m, and their seasonal dynamics. Both Cyanobacteria were present throughout the year, with the greatest abundance during the period from March to May. A temporal shift was observed in their development, linked to different capacities for overcoming winter and mixing periods. Principal Component Analysis, performed on 20 observations (4 months × 5 depths), highlighted the important role of the stability of the water column in determining T. bourrellyi settlement in Lake Iseo and the role of solar radiation in spring population development. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of Temperature Rising on the Stygobitic Crustacean Species Diacyclops belgicus: Does Global Warming Affect Groundwater Populations?
Water 2017, 9(12), 951; https://doi.org/10.3390/w9120951 - 07 Dec 2017
Cited by 6
Abstract
The average global temperature is predicted to increase by 3 °C by the end of this century due to human-induced climate change. The overall metabolism of the aquatic biota will be directly affected by rising temperatures and associated changes. Since thermal stability is [...] Read more.
The average global temperature is predicted to increase by 3 °C by the end of this century due to human-induced climate change. The overall metabolism of the aquatic biota will be directly affected by rising temperatures and associated changes. Since thermal stability is a characteristic of groundwater ecosystems, global warming is expected to have a profound effect on the groundwater fauna. The prediction that stygobitic (obligate groundwater dweller) species are vulnerable to climate change includes assumptions about metabolic effects that can only be tested by comparisons across a thermal gradient. To this end, we investigated the effects of two different thermal regimes on the metabolism of the stygobitic copepod species Diacyclops belgicus (Kiefer, 1936). We measured the individual-based oxygen consumption of this species as a proxy of possible metabolic reactions to temperature rising from 14 to 17 °C. We used a sealed glass microplate equipped with planar oxygen sensor spots with optical isolation glued onto the bottom of 80-μL wells integrated with a 24-channel fluorescence-based respirometry system. The tests have provided controversial results according to which the D. belgicus populations should be prudently considered at risk under a global warming scenario. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Distribution Patterns of the Freshwater Oligochaete Limnodrilus hoffmeisteri Influenced by Environmental Factors in Streams on a Korean Nationwide Scale
Water 2017, 9(12), 921; https://doi.org/10.3390/w9120921 - 27 Nov 2017
Abstract
Aquatic oligochaetes are very common in streams, and are used as biological assessment indicators as well as in the biological management of organic-enriched systems. In this study, we analyzed the effects of environmental factors influencing the distribution of aquatic oligochaetes Limnodrilus hoffmeisteri in [...] Read more.
Aquatic oligochaetes are very common in streams, and are used as biological assessment indicators as well as in the biological management of organic-enriched systems. In this study, we analyzed the effects of environmental factors influencing the distribution of aquatic oligochaetes Limnodrilus hoffmeisteri in streams. We used 13 environmental factors in three categories (i.e., geography, hydrology, and physicochemistry). Data on the distribution of oligochaetes and environmental factors were obtained from 1159 sampling sites throughout Korea on a nationwide scale. Hierarchical cluster analysis (HCA) and nonmetric multidimensional scaling (NMDS) were performed to analyze the relationships between the occurrence of aquatic oligochaetes and environmental factors. A random forest model was used to evaluate the relative importance of the environmental factors affecting the distribution of oligochaetes. HCA classified sampling sites into four groups according to differences in environmental factors, and NMDS ordination reflected the differences of environmental factors, in particular, water depth, velocity, and altitude, among the four groups defined in the HCA. Furthermore, using a random forest model, turbidity and water velocity were evaluated as highly important factors influencing the distribution of L. hoffmeisteri. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Diversity and Distribution of Endemic Stream Insects on a Nationwide Scale, South Korea: Conservation Perspectives
Water 2017, 9(11), 833; https://doi.org/10.3390/w9110833 - 30 Oct 2017
Cited by 3
Abstract
This study aimed to identify the biogeographical and environmental factors affecting the biodiversity of endemic aquatic species (i.e., Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera and Trichoptera; EPT). We used data collected from 714 sampling sites combined with 39 environmental factors. Ten EPT endemic species were identified. The [...] Read more.
This study aimed to identify the biogeographical and environmental factors affecting the biodiversity of endemic aquatic species (i.e., Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera and Trichoptera; EPT). We used data collected from 714 sampling sites combined with 39 environmental factors. Ten EPT endemic species were identified. The sampling sites grouped into four clusters based on the similarities of the endemic EPT assemblages using a hierarchical cluster analysis. Non-metric multidimensional scaling (NMS) revealed the differences among the four clusters, with the first three axes being strongly related to annual average, August, and January temperatures, as well as altitude. The random forest model identified geological and meteorological factors as the main factors influencing species distribution, even though the contributions of environmental factors were species-specific. Species with the lower occurrence frequency (i.e., Pteronarcys macra, Kamimuria coreana, and Psilotreta locumtenens) mainly occurred in the least-disturbed habitats. P. macra represents a priority conservation species, because it has a limited distribution range and is highly vulnerable to anthropogenic disturbance. Our results support the need for an environmental management policy to regulate deforestation and conserve biodiversity, including endemic species. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Evolutionary Toxicology as a Tool to Assess the Ecotoxicological Risk in Freshwater Ecosystems
Water 2018, 10(4), 490; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10040490 - 17 Apr 2018
Cited by 3
Abstract
Borrowing the approaches of population genetics, evolutionary toxicology was particularly useful in assessing the transgenerational effects of a substance at sublethal concentrations, as well as evaluating genetic variation in populations exposed to pollutants. Starting from assays in controlled conditions, in recent years this [...] Read more.
Borrowing the approaches of population genetics, evolutionary toxicology was particularly useful in assessing the transgenerational effects of a substance at sublethal concentrations, as well as evaluating genetic variation in populations exposed to pollutants. Starting from assays in controlled conditions, in recent years this approach has also found successful applications multi-stressed natural systems. It is also able to exploit the huge amount of data provided by Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) techniques. Similarly, the focus has shifted from effects on the overall genetic variability, the so-called “genetic erosion”, to selective effects induced by contaminants at more specific pathways. In the aquatic context, effects are usually assessed on non-model species, preferably native fish or macroinvertebrates. Here we provide a review of current trends in this specific discipline, with a focus on population genetics and genomics approaches. In addition, we demonstrate the potential usefulness of predictive simulation and Bayesian techniques. A focused collection of field and laboratory studies is discussed to demonstrate the effectiveness of this approach, covering a range of molecular markers, different endpoints of genetic variation, and different classes of chemical contaminants. Moreover, guidelines for a future implementation of evolutionary perspective into Ecological Risk Assessment are provided. Full article
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