Special Issue "Biodiversity Conservation and Ecosystem Management in Fresh and Transitional Waters"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 December 2021) | Viewed by 4459

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Eleonora Ciccotti
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Biology, University of Rome Tor Vergata, 00133 Roma, Italy
Interests: fish ecology and conservation; sustainable fisheries in inland and coastal waters; sustainable management models in rivers and coastal lagoons

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Fresh and transitional water ecosystems are among the most endangered ecosystems in the world, as a consequence of the combined effects of many anthropogenic impacts such as water pollution and withdrawal, flow modification and river fragmentation, land use and reclamation, overexploitation of resources, and the introduction and spread of exotic species. Environmental changes occurring at the global scale, such as warming and shifts in precipitation and runoff patterns, and nitrogen deposition add their effects, leading to habitat degradation and loss, and ultimately impairing the structure and function of ecosystems and threatening the aquatic biodiversity they support.

The threats affecting freshwater ecosystems and associated transitional waters such as estuaries, wetlands, and coastal lagoons are a direct consequence of the multiple uses of inland and coastal ecosystems, that have provided a livelihood to humans since ancient times. Goods and services provided by these aquatic ecosystems rely on water and living resources as well as on their ecological features. Along with increasing consumption patterns and human impacts, competition among multiple stakeholders has also risen, and this has further affected the biological integrity and the ecological functioning of inland and transitional waters, increasing concerns about their ability to further support important ecosystem services.

Investigating the relationships between biodiversity and functioning of aquatic ecosystems is crucial not only for understanding the role of species and habitats in supporting ecosystem services, but also for the implications related to management. The adoption of sustainable management schemes, balancing conservation requirements, and socio-economical dimensions will critically influence the long-term ability of aquatic ecosystems to maintain their basic attributes and at the same time withstand the sustainable use of ecosystem goods and services.

Within this framework, this Special Issue will gather contributions that address biodiversity conservation within ecosystem management in inland waters (rivers, lakes, reservoirs) and associated transitional ecosystems (estuaries, wetlands, coastal lagoons), with particular emphasis on integrated management and sustainable exploitation of water and living resources, habitat restoration, and reserve management for biodiversity conservation, interactions among stakeholders, and protective legislation.

Prof. Dr. Eleonora Ciccotti
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Biodiversity
  • conservation
  • inland aquatic ecosystems
  • sustainability
  • integrated management
  • restoration

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

Article
Conservation Genetics of Mediterranean Brown Trout in Central Italy (Latium): A Multi-Marker Approach
Water 2022, 14(6), 937; https://doi.org/10.3390/w14060937 - 17 Mar 2022
Viewed by 424
Abstract
Brown trout is considered a complex of incipient species, including several phylogenetic lineages, whose natural distribution in the Mediterranean area has been altered, since the beginning of the 1900s, by massive introductions of domestic strains of Atlantic origin to support fisheries. Introduced trout [...] Read more.
Brown trout is considered a complex of incipient species, including several phylogenetic lineages, whose natural distribution in the Mediterranean area has been altered, since the beginning of the 1900s, by massive introductions of domestic strains of Atlantic origin to support fisheries. Introduced trout naturalize in new suitable environments and extensively hybridize with native populations. Here, we characterized putatively neutral and adaptive genetic variability and population structure of Mediterranean brown trout from six river catchments in central peninsular Italy, as revealed by both mitochondrial (Control Region) and nuclear (microsatellites, LDH-C1, major histocompatibility complex) markers. We quantified the admixture of wild populations with hatchery strains and evaluated the effects of domestic trout introductions on shaping population genetics. Our analyses indicated: (1) a composite picture of genetic variability in the area, with the presence of all native Mediterranean trout mitochondrial lineages (“Adriatic”, “Mediterranean”, “marmoratus”), various frequencies of allochthonous genotypes and different rates of introgression among sampling sites; (2) asymmetric mito-nuclear introgression; (3) increasing nuclear marker diversity with increasing levels of admixture across populations; (4) strong population structure coupled with relatively low effective population size. Data allowed the identification of five management units and we propose specific actions to support ongoing and future conservation strategies within the examined area. Full article
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Article
Size Matters, but Species Do Not: No Evidence for Species-Specific Swimming Performance in Co-Occurring Great Basin Stream Fishes
Water 2021, 13(18), 2570; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13182570 - 17 Sep 2021
Viewed by 656
Abstract
For fishes, swimming performance is an important predictor of habitat use and a critical measure for the design of effective fish passage systems. Few studies have examined burst and prolonged types of swimming performance among several co-occurring species, and swimming performance in many [...] Read more.
For fishes, swimming performance is an important predictor of habitat use and a critical measure for the design of effective fish passage systems. Few studies have examined burst and prolonged types of swimming performance among several co-occurring species, and swimming performance in many fish communities is undocumented. In this study, we characterize both burst (c-start velocity) and prolonged speed (critical swim speed) across a poorly documented, co-occurring group of stream fishes within the Great Basin of the western USA. We documented the variation in swim speed associated with species, habitat, and body size. Body size had an overwhelming effect on both burst speed and prolonged speed, whereas habitat use and species identity were not significant predictors. Among species, there is no evidence of a trade-off between burst swim speed and prolonged swim speed. Lack of a trade-off in performance between burst swim speed and prolonged swim speed among species may be due to unexpectedly high prolonged swim speeds exhibited by species that used substrate-bracing behaviors. Incorporating body size and variation in behavior, such as substrate-bracing behaviors, into fish passage models will likely be sufficient to ensure the passage of all species without the need to account for species-specific swimming abilities. However, these results characterize the swimming performance for threatened and common fish species such that other comparisons can be made and species-specific studies can access accurate data. Full article
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Article
Incorporating Stakeholder Knowledge into a Complex Stock Assessment Model: The Case of Eel Recruitment
Water 2021, 13(9), 1136; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13091136 - 21 Apr 2021
Viewed by 1115
Abstract
Mistrust between scientists and non-scientist stakeholders is a key challenge in fishery management. The support of management with complex models is difficult, as these models cannot easily communicate their results to end users, resulting in a lack of confidence. As an example, the [...] Read more.
Mistrust between scientists and non-scientist stakeholders is a key challenge in fishery management. The support of management with complex models is difficult, as these models cannot easily communicate their results to end users, resulting in a lack of confidence. As an example, the complex life cycle of the European eel raises problems of coordination and discussion among the multiple actors involved in the species’ management. The GEREM model has been proposed as a tool for estimating recruitment, but its complexity, which is essential for addressing the characteristics of the species, makes it difficult to understand and accept by all stakeholders. In the context of the SUDOANG project, we proposed a co-parametrisation of this assessment model to tackle this mistrust. Through the use of various questionnaires, stakeholders were involved in two important choices for the model (zone definition and prior construction). Regular workshops and presentations were organised to explain the model rationales and to gather feedback and expectations. The results show that stakeholders have very similar perceptions of the potential definitions of sub-areas of recruitment in south-western Europe, and these perceptions are consistent with the underlying environmental conditions. On the other hand, the stakeholders have contrasting opinions about the exploitation rates of fisheries in different river basins, and the use of their knowledge currently has little effect on GEREM estimates. More importantly, the overall approach of this study is thought to have reconstructed the trust and confidence among participants. Full article
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Article
Genetic Diversity of Stellate Sturgeon in the Lower Danube River: The Impact of Habitat Contraction upon a Critically Endangered Population
Water 2021, 13(8), 1115; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13081115 - 18 Apr 2021
Viewed by 868
Abstract
One of the last wild populations of the critically endangered stellate sturgeon (Acipenser stellatus) survives in the Danube River. Limited knowledge about the genetic structure, ecology, and evolution of this species led to poor and inconsistent management decisions with an increased [...] Read more.
One of the last wild populations of the critically endangered stellate sturgeon (Acipenser stellatus) survives in the Danube River. Limited knowledge about the genetic structure, ecology, and evolution of this species led to poor and inconsistent management decisions with an increased risk for species extinction in the wild. Here we show the results of genetic structure screening of the Danube River wild population over 12 years timespan. Our research does not bring evidence of population recovery. No genetic structuring was identified at the mitochondrial level concerning spawning migration timing, sampling locations, and developmental stages. Eleven maternal lineages were revealed based on restriction fragment lengths analysis of the D-loop region, with one haplotype as the most frequent. While this could be the result of a massive restocking activity using a reduced number of spawners, our data does not support it. The selection of mitochondrial haplotypes under the pressure of habitat contraction and the narrower range of temperature variation since dams’ construction on the river could explain the observed distribution. Several factors of managerial concern are discussed. Our results provide baseline data on the mtDNA diversity in a critically endangered species of exceptionally high socioeconomic and conservation interest. Full article
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Article
Movements of Non-Migrant European Eels in an Urbanised Channel Linking a Mediterranean Lagoon to the Sea
Water 2021, 13(6), 839; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13060839 - 19 Mar 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 676
Abstract
Transitional ecosystems and, particularly, Mediterranean lagoons represent important habitats for the European eel (Anguilla anguilla) population. In these habitats many anthropogenic pressures can disturb eel movements and, in turn, negatively affect the population. Despite the importance of movements during the non-migrant [...] Read more.
Transitional ecosystems and, particularly, Mediterranean lagoons represent important habitats for the European eel (Anguilla anguilla) population. In these habitats many anthropogenic pressures can disturb eel movements and, in turn, negatively affect the population. Despite the importance of movements during the non-migrant growing stage in eels, this topic is understudied in Mediterranean lagoons. We thus aim to describe the diel and seasonal phenology and the effect of environmental drivers on non-migrant eel movements. Videos obtained from an Adaptive Resolution Imaging Sonar (ARIS) acoustic camera that continuously recorded from October 2018 to April 2020 were processed to evaluate the daily number of eels swimming toward the lagoon. More than 60% of the 7207 eels observed were females with a size >45 cm. Movements were year-round and predominantly during the night. A Boosted Regression Tree analysis demonstrated that, among the 10 environmental drivers studied, flow velocity, water temperature, discharge of the main tributary, wind velocity and atmospheric pressure, had the strongest influence on eel movement activity. Non-migrant eel movements should be better incorporated into lagoon management plans through actions such as limiting dredging activities from 18:00 to midnight, especially when the water flows toward the lagoon and when the water temperature is higher than 12 °C. Full article
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