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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

Benthic Diatom Communities in Urban Streams and the Role of Riparian Buffers

Mutinova, Petra Thea; Kahlert, Maria; Kupilas, Benjamin; McKie, Brendan G.; Friberg, Nikolai; Burdon, Francis J.

Abstract

Urbanization impacts stream ecosystems globally through degraded water quality, altered hydrology, and landscape disturbances at the catchment and riparian scales, causing biodiversity losses and altered system functioning. Addressing the "urban stream syndrome" requires multiple mitigation tools, and rehabilitation of riparian vegetation may help improve stream ecological status and provide key ecosystem services. However, the extent to which forested riparian buffers can help support stream biodiversity in the face of numerous environmental contingencies remains uncertain. We assessed how a key indicator of stream ecological status, benthic diatoms, respond to riparian habitat conditions using 10 urban site pairs (each comprising of one unbuffered and one buffered reach), and additional urban downstream and forest reference upstream sites in the Oslo Fjord basin. Diatom communities were structured by multiple drivers including spatial location, land use, water quality, and instream habitat. Among these, riparian habitat condition independently explained 16% of variation in community composition among site pairs. Changes in community structure and indicator taxa, along with a reduction in pollution-tolerant diatoms, suggested tangible benefits of forested riparian buffers for stream biodiversity in urban environments. Managing urban impacts requires multiple solutions, with forested riparian zones providing a potential tool to help improve biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Keywords

urban stream syndrome; urbanization; riparian buffer; nature-based solutions; habitat restoration; blue-green infrastructure

Published in

Water
2020, volume: 12, number: 10, article number: 2799
Publisher: MDPI

Authors' information

Mutinova, Petra Thea
University of Rostock
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment
Kupilas, Benjamin
Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment
Friberg, Nikolai
University of Leeds
Burdon, Francis
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG6 Clean water
SDG11 Sustainable cities and communities

UKÄ Subject classification

Ecology
Environmental Sciences

Publication Identifiers

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/w12102799

URI (permanent link to this page)

https://res.slu.se/id/publ/108981