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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

Assessing the Benefits of Forested Riparian Zones: A Qualitative Index of Riparian Integrity Is Positively Associated with Ecological Status in European Streams

Burdon, Francis J.; Ramberg, Ellinor; Sargac, Jasmina; Forio, Marie Anne Eurie; de Saeyer, Nancy; Mutinova, Petra Thea; Moe, Therese Fosholt; Pavelescu, Mihaela Oprina; Dinu, Valentin; Cazacu, Constantin; Witing, Felix; Kupilas, Benjamin; Grandin, Ulf; Volk, Martin; Risnoveanu, Geta; Goethals, Peter; Friberg, Nikolai; Johnson, Richard K.; McKie, Brendan G.

Abstract

Developing a general, predictive understanding of ecological systems requires knowing how much structural and functional relationships can cross scales and contexts. Here, we introduce the CROSSLINK project that investigates the role of forested riparian buffers in modified European landscapes by measuring a wide range of ecosystem attributes in stream-riparian networks. CROSSLINK involves replicated field measurements in four case-study basins with varying levels of human development: Norway (Oslo Fjord), Sweden (Lake Malaren), Belgium (Zwalm River), and Romania (Arge River). Nested within these case-study basins include multiple, independent stream-site pairs with a forested riparian buffer and unbuffered section located upstream, as well as headwater and downstream sites to show cumulative land-use impacts. CROSSLINK applies existing and bespoke methods to describe habitat conditions, biodiversity, and ecosystem functioning in aquatic and terrestrial habitats. Here, we summarize the approaches used, detail protocols in supplementary materials, and explain how data is applied in an optimization framework to better manage tradeoffs in multifunctional landscapes. We then present results demonstrating the range of riparian conditions present in our case-study basins and how these environmental states influence stream ecological integrity with the commonly used macroinvertebrate Average Score Per Taxon (ASPT) index. We demonstrate that a qualitative index of riparian integrity can be positively associated with stream ecological status. This introduction to the CROSSLINK project shows the potential for our replicated study with its panoply of ecosystem attributes to help guide management decisions regarding the use of forested riparian buffers in human-impacted landscapes. This knowledge is highly relevant in a time of rapid environmental change where freshwater biodiversity is increasingly under pressure from a range of human impacts that include habitat loss, pollution, and climate change.

Keywords

benthic invertebrates; land use; agriculture; urbanization; riparian management; riparian buffer; nature-based solutions; blue-green infrastructure; climate-change adaptation; protocols

Published in

Water
2020, volume: 12, number: 4, article number: 1178
Publisher: MDPI

Authors' information

Burdon, Francis
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment
Forio, Marie Anne Eurie
Univ Ghent
de Saeyer, Nancy
Univ Ghent
Mutinova, Petra Thea
Norwegian Inst Water Res NIVA
Moe, Therese Fosholt
Norwegian Inst Water Res NIVA
Pavelescu, Mihaela Oprina
Univ Bucharest
Dinu, Valentin
Univ Bucharest
Cazacu, Constantin
Univ Bucharest
Witing, Felix
UFZ Helmholtz Ctr Environm Res
Kupilas, Benjamin
Norwegian Inst Water Res NIVA
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment
Volk, Martin
UFZ Helmholtz Ctr Environm Res
Risnoveanu, Geta
Univ Bucharest
Goethals, Peter
Univ Ghent
Friberg, Nikolai
Univ Leeds
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment

UKÄ Subject classification

Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources

Publication Identifiers

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/w12041178

URI (permanent link to this page)

https://res.slu.se/id/publ/106826