Special Issue "Human-Induced Changes to Aquatic Communities: Monitoring and Ecological Restoration"

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (25 September 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Andrés Millán
Website
Guest Editor
Dpto. de Ecología e Hidrología, Facultad de Biología, Universidad de Murcia, Campus de Espinardo, 30100 Murcia, Spain
Interests: coleoptera, hemiptera, aquatic ecology, conservation, biogeography, environmental stress.
Dr. Daniel Bruno
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Biodiversity and Restoration, Pyrenean Institute of Ecology (IPE-CSIC), Zaragoza, Spain
Interests: aquatic ecosystems; freshwater biodiversity; riparian ecology; river restoration; ecosystem functioning; climate change

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Freshwater ecosystems have experienced intense, multiple and long-standing human pressures that have caused damage to aquatic and riparian biodiversity and contributed to their being considered one of the most threatened ecosystems in the world. The main anthropogenic impacts are caused by activities such as water overexploitation, channelization, flow regulation, riparian deforestation, agricultural and urban pollution and the spread of non-native species. In the last decades, different biomonitoring schemes have been applied to detect the biological responses of aquatic and riparian communities and determine the ecological status of inland waters. Based on this information, management and restoration actions have been developed to try to reverse this environmental degradation. However, how aquatic communities respond to multiple anthropogenic impacts and especially to restoration actions is still poorly understood. This Special Issue aims to compile experiences of the biomonitoring of impacted and restored inland water ecosystems around the world to gain insight into human-induced changes to freshwater communities in a framework of global change and identify effective restoration actions to recover them.

Dr. Andrés Millán
Dr. Daniel Bruno
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • aquatic biodiversity
  • biomonitoring
  • environmental management
  • freshwater ecology
  • global change
  • human impacts
  • restoration actions

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Short-Term Responses of Aquatic and Terrestrial Biodiversity to Riparian Restoration Measures Designed to Control the Invasive Arundo donax L.
Water 2019, 11(12), 2551; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11122551 - 03 Dec 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Invasive species are among the top five causes of biodiversity loss worldwide. Arundo donax has progressively colonized the riparian zones of Mediterranean rivers with detrimental effects on terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity, being catalogued as one of the 100 worst invasive species. In order [...] Read more.
Invasive species are among the top five causes of biodiversity loss worldwide. Arundo donax has progressively colonized the riparian zones of Mediterranean rivers with detrimental effects on terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity, being catalogued as one of the 100 worst invasive species. In order to control this invasive species and restore native riparian vegetation, different methods have been traditionally used, depending on the environmental, economic and social context. Here, the effect of repeated above-ground removal of A. donax on aquatic and terrestrial communities was assessed by testing two different frequencies of mowing (monthly-intensive and quarterly-extensive), combined with the plantation of native species. Specifically, it was evaluated if riparian vegetation, birds and aquatic macroinvertebrates showed significant responses throughout time and between restoration treatments based on 4-year annual biomonitoring data (2015–2018). Changes in taxonomic diversity and ecological quality indices for the different biological communities were tested using mixed-effect models (LMEs). Similarly, comparisons between restored and reference sites were also performed. LMEs were also applied to assess how riparian variables were related to bird and aquatic macroinvertebrate indices. NMDS and MGLM-Mvabund analyses were performed to detect significant post-treatment differences in taxa composition compared to the initial state and reference sites. During this short-term assessment, increases in riparian and aquatic macroinvertebrate richness and quality indices were found, as well as significant decreases in A. donax height, density and cover, without significant differences between restoration treatments. However, differential effects between extensive (positive-neutral effect) and intensive treatments (neutral-negative effect) were detected for bird richness, density and abundance. After three years of restoration actions, restored sites are still far from reference values in terms of taxa composition, species richness and ecological quality, especially for riparian vegetation and birds. Given the high cost and the great efforts required for restoration, extensive repeated mowing, together with native species plantation, are only recommended on river reaches not fully invaded by A. donax and with a high ecological interest. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Effects of a Large Irrigation Reservoir on Aquatic and Riparian Plants: A History of Survival and Loss
Water 2019, 11(11), 2379; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11112379 - 14 Nov 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Dammed rivers have unnatural stream flows, disrupted sediment dynamics, and rearranged geomorphologic settings. Consequently, fluvial biota experiences disturbed functioning in the novel ecosystems. The case study is the large irrigation reservoir Alqueva in Guadiana River, Southern Iberia. The study area was divided into [...] Read more.
Dammed rivers have unnatural stream flows, disrupted sediment dynamics, and rearranged geomorphologic settings. Consequently, fluvial biota experiences disturbed functioning in the novel ecosystems. The case study is the large irrigation reservoir Alqueva in Guadiana River, Southern Iberia. The study area was divided into three zones: upstream and downstream of the dam and reservoir. For each zone, species composition and land use and land cover (LULC) were compared before and after the Alqueva Dam implementation. Data consist of aquatic and riparian flora composition obtained from 46 surveys and the area (%) of 12 classes of LULC obtained in 90 riverine sampling units through the analysis of historical and contemporary imagery. There was an overall decrease of several endemic species and on the riparian shrublands and aquatic stands, although differences in the proportion of functional groups were not significant. Nevertheless, compositional diversity shows a significant decline in the upstream zone while landscape diversity shows an accentuated reduction in the reservoir area and downstream of the dam, which is likely related to the loss of the rocky habitats of the ‘old’ Guadiana River and the homogenization of the riverscape due to the irrigation intensification. The mitigation of these critical changes should be site-specific and should rely on the knowledge of the interactions between surrounding lands, ecological, biogeomorphologic, and hydrological components of the fluvial ecosystems. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Influence of Riparian Corridor Land Use on the Pesquería River’s Macroinvertebrate Community (N.E. Mexico)
Water 2019, 11(9), 1930; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11091930 - 16 Sep 2019
Abstract
The Earth’s freshwater ecosystems are currently under threat, particularly in developing countries. In Mexico, intensive land use and inadequate monitoring policies have resulted in the severe degradation of the country’s freshwater ecosystems. This study assesses how the macroinvertebrate communities in the Pesquería River, [...] Read more.
The Earth’s freshwater ecosystems are currently under threat, particularly in developing countries. In Mexico, intensive land use and inadequate monitoring policies have resulted in the severe degradation of the country’s freshwater ecosystems. This study assesses how the macroinvertebrate communities in the Pesquería River, located in Northeastern Mexico, are affected by riparian land use, in order to determine their potential use as bioindicators to evaluate the macroinvertebrate integrity of the Pesquería River. First, we characterized the land use cover in the riparian channel. Second, we sampled 16 sites for benthic macroinvertebrates along the main channel during the wet and dry seasons. Third, we evaluated the influence of the riparian channel land use on the macroinvertebrate community using 42 different biological metrics. The land use characterization depicted a riparian channel mainly influenced by agricultural and urban land use. Eighty-one invertebrate taxa were identified during the study. Permutational analysis of the variance analysis confirmed significant differences across the different land use classes and the macroinvertebrate community composition while no differences were found between seasons. The indicator species analysis revealed 31 representative taxa for natural land use, 1 for urban, and 4 for agricultural land use. Our modelling analysis showed that 28 of the 42 biological metrics tested responded significantly to land use disturbances, confirming the impact of land use changes on the Pesquería River’s macroinvertebrate communities and suggesting that these metrics may have a use as bioindicators. Finally, this study may provide significant biological information for further studies in similar conditions. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Taxonomic and Functional Responses of Benthic Macroinvertebrate Communities to Hydrological and Water Quality Variations in a Heavily Regulated River
Water 2019, 11(7), 1478; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11071478 - 16 Jul 2019
Cited by 5
Abstract
Aquatic macroinvertebrates are frequently used to evaluate river system conditions and restoration project performance. A better understanding of macroinvertebrate community responses to multiple stressors is a primary challenge for river science. In this paper, macroinvertebrate responses to hydrological and water quality variability were [...] Read more.
Aquatic macroinvertebrates are frequently used to evaluate river system conditions and restoration project performance. A better understanding of macroinvertebrate community responses to multiple stressors is a primary challenge for river science. In this paper, macroinvertebrate responses to hydrological and water quality variability were studied in the regulated Oglio River (northern Italy). We hypothesized that in regulated rivers the hydrological, rather than the physico-chemical conditions, would affect macroinvertebrate communities and biomonitoring tools (taxonomic metrics and functional indices). Repeated sampling (six times a year) was performed at four sites downstream of four dams in a 30 km river stretch during 2014 and 2015. Data were analysed using a linear mixed effect framework, to take into account random variation due to site and sampling date, and with multivariate analysis to track changes in community structure. A total of 69 families and 134,693 organisms were identified. The investigated metrics were mainly affected by the coefficient of variation of discharge, minimum discharge, ammonium, and temperature. The short-term dynamics of hydrological and physico-chemical variables were generally less important than the overall random effects as drivers of macroinvertebrate-based metrics. However, the relevance of a random effect (site, time, their interaction) differed depending on the biological metrics analysed. Understanding potential differences in response to short term and short stretch conditions would benefit biomonitoring and restoration procedures in both regulated and natural rivers. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of River Ecological Restoration on Biofilm Microbial Community Composition
Water 2019, 11(6), 1244; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11061244 - 14 Jun 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Across the world, there have been increasing attempts to restore good ecological condition to degraded rivers through habitat restoration. Microbial communities developing as biofilms play an important role in river ecosystem functioning by driving organic matter decomposition and ecosystem respiration. However, little is [...] Read more.
Across the world, there have been increasing attempts to restore good ecological condition to degraded rivers through habitat restoration. Microbial communities developing as biofilms play an important role in river ecosystem functioning by driving organic matter decomposition and ecosystem respiration. However, little is known about the structure and function of microbial communities in riverine systems and how these change when habitat restoration is implemented. Here, we compared the biofilm bacterial community composition using 16S rRNA genes targeted high-throughput Illumina Miseq sequencing in three river types, degraded urban rivers, urban rivers undergoing habitat restoration and forested rivers (our reference conditions). We aimed to determine: (i) the biofilm bacterial community composition affected by habitat restoration (ii) the difference in bacterial diversity in restored rivers, and (iii) correlations between environmental variables and bacterial community composition. The results showed that both water quality and biofilm bacterial community structure were changed by habitat restoration. In rivers where habitat had been restored, there was an increase in dissolved oxygen, a reduction in organic pollutants, a reduction in bacterial diversity and a related developing pattern of microbial communities, which is moving towards that of the reference conditions (forested rivers). River habitat management stimulated the processing of organic pollutants through the variation in microbial community composition, however, a big difference in bacterial structure still existed between the restored rivers and the reference forest rivers. Thus, habitat restoration is an efficient way of modifying the biofilm microbial community composition for sustainable freshwater management. It will, however, take a much longer time for degraded rivers to attain a similar ecosystem quality as the “pristine” forest sites than the seven years of restoration studied here. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Long-Term Ecological Health Assessment of a Restored Urban Stream Based on Chemical Water Quality, Physical Habitat Conditions and Biological Integrity
Water 2019, 11(1), 114; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11010114 - 10 Jan 2019
Cited by 15
Abstract
We studied the chemical water quality, physical habitat and biotic integrity of an urban stream subjected to restoration measures in South Korea. We used the water pollution index (WPI), qualitative habitat evaluation index (QHEI) and index of biotic integrity (IBI) on the water [...] Read more.
We studied the chemical water quality, physical habitat and biotic integrity of an urban stream subjected to restoration measures in South Korea. We used the water pollution index (WPI), qualitative habitat evaluation index (QHEI) and index of biotic integrity (IBI) on the water quality, physical habitat and fish assemblage data respectively, during 2007–2016 in Gap Stream to evaluate the ecological health before and after restoration measures. The results revealed annual mean total phosphorus (TP) dramatically decreased by 13-fold for 10 years and the values of biological oxygen demand (BOD) and chemical oxygen demand (COD) also decreased by >50% over the time, indicating decrease in nutrient enrichment and organic matter pollution after restoration measures. In the meantime, biological health analyses using IBI indicated no major transformation in fish assemblages under restoration impact. However, the proportion of sensitive species increased, and tolerant species decreased after restoration. Gap stream is home to 50 distinct fish species. QHEI proposed that the physical habitat health was in ‘good’ condition during the study period. WPI showed the chemical water quality status remained ‘poor’ during and before restoration but improved to ‘fair-good’ condition in the ensuing years after restoration. The IBI results, however, indicated ‘very poor-poor’ biotic integrity irrespective of restoration measures. CHL-a and TP showed strong (r < 0.7) to moderately strong (r = 0.5–0.7) correlation with significantly important water quality factors. Spatially significant pattern change in TN and TP was obvious as measured levels were significantly higher (p < 0.01) in downstream than upstream. Principal component analysis successfully indicated the placement of water quality factors and indices used as in three distinct stream compartments. The higher pollutant levels in the downstream mainly linked to the nutrient-rich effluents from emerging from the wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) and industrial complexes operative in the stream catchment. Overall, restoration measures indicated minor impact on fish assemblages and physical habitat due to slow and steady improvement, however, water quality improved due to a decline of nutrients and chemicals downstream. This indicated a positive tendency of improvements in physical habitat and richness of fish assemblages in Gap Stream. Full article
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