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MILJØFORSK-Miljøforskning for en grønn samfunnsomstilling

Holistic evaluation and restoration measures of human impacts on freshwater ecosystems across biogeographical gradients

Alternative title: Adaptive tiltak og evalueringer for å redusere mennesklige påvirkninger på økosystemer i ferskvann over en biogeografisk gradient.

Awarded: NOK 3.0 mill.

Freshwater ecosystems are under tremendous stress due to human impact. This jeopardizes biodiversity and human welfare, as important ecosystem services provided by the biota, such as water filtering and food, might disappear. In order for us to mitigate the inflicted stress, we need to understand and forecast how ecological processes reacts to changes in the environment and concurrently how the environment might be changed to sustain and restore the biodiversity. FreshRestore will collate, integrate and analyse data on freshwater ecosystems and land use from a large geographical scale to understand how the systems are affected and what we can to prevent negative changes in the future. We will evaluate possible restoration efforts, such as regrowth of forest and buffer zones, in an socio-economic framework in order to find cost efficient nature based solutions for improving biodiversity for the future in stressed lakes through out Europe.

Freshwater ecosystems are under tremendous anthropogenic stress both at a global scale (e.g. from climate change) and also at catchment scales (e.g. from land use). This is not only problematic for biodiversity, but also for human prosperity as a functional freshwater ecosystem provides a range of ecosystem services. A key challenge of the 21st century is therefore to understand and predict how freshwater ecosystems respond to the suite of stressors, and concurrently how we can sustain and restore these systems at a large scale. To achieve this task we need a coherent framework to understand and predict how the suite of stressors influences functional diversity, as the target for mitigation measures, in freshwater systems. Our project, FreshRestore, will use lake ecosystems across Fennoscandia as a model system. The project is based upon existing datasets of abiotic parameters, fish community and population structure and trophic diversity from stable isotopes across large environmental gradients in Fennoscandia. These datasets, collated by consortium members will be expanded and merged with information on climate, land- and waterscape utilization as well as restoration and mitigation efforts (e.g. habitat restorations, wetlands, regrowth of forest and buffer zones). We will develop and employ an integrative modeling framework estimating and merging demographic traits with information on trophic diversity and niche utilization from stable isotope analyses, and how the outcome varies with anthropogenic stressors. The resulting scenarios will be tested for generality at European scale by including case-studies areas with less available data (Spain). We will also combine the ecological knowledge with socio-economic models to evaluate the cost-efficiency of different nature based solutions (e.g. altered land use) and assess how to improve biodiversity in lakes through simulations of different implementations.

Funding scheme:

MILJØFORSK-Miljøforskning for en grønn samfunnsomstilling