Management and restoration (module 5)
Impacts of pressure reduction and climate change on the ecological status
The two main future drivers for BQEs' change in European water bodies will be recovery (following pressure reduction and restoration measures) and climate change. The latter is expected to result in additional threats on ecosystem integrity, both directly through temperature increase and indirectly through interaction with other stressors (e.g. land use changes).
In this module we will examine and predict recovery processes of BQEs in aquatic ecosystems following pressure reduction (restoration of hydromorphology or oligotrophication) and investigate how climate change may affect recovery-trajectories affecting the good/moderate class boundary, by shifting baselines, altering stress intensity and biogeographical changes.
Work will particularly focus on alternative management options, their ecological effects, associated uncertainties and costs (driver-pressure-impact-response- recovery chains). The responses of BQEs, as influenced by stressor increase and decrease, will be modelled for a set of scenarios, which will account for different pressure reduction schemes, catchment management options and climate change scenarios. Analyses will take account of time-lags in the response of ecosystems, hysteresis and re-colonisation potential of organisms, all of which may differ greatly among regions and BQEs. Of particular importance for WFD implementation is to understand and quantify:
- The efficiency of present pressure reduction measures to achieve good ecological status.
- The required pressure reduction for ecosystems to achieve good ecological status.
- The uncertainty of the ecological effects of pressure reduction.
- How climate and land use changes may affect the ecological thresholds that are used to define the boundaries between good and moderate ecological status, and thereby change the operational WFD objective.
- How variability in climate forcing may affect ecological status, recovery processes and restoration measures in the presence of ecosystem regime shifts.