From: University of the Basque Country
Published July 20, 2017 09:59 AM

The way rivers function reflects their ecological status and is rarely explored

The Ecología de ríos/Stream Ecology research group of the UPV/EHU's Department of Plant Biology and Ecology is a group that specialises in the study of the way rivers function; it comprises experts from numerous areas who have combined their knowledge with a broad range of bibliographical information in the context of the European Globaqua Project in which more than 10 European institutions are participating. One outcome of such a broad piece of work is a long article "in which we synthesize and classify all the processes that can be measured in rivers; we explain how the measurements can be made (methods existing in the literature), how these processes respond to various environmental stressors, etc.", explained Daniel von Schiller, one of the authors of the article. It is a "proposal that puts forward a new, highly appropriate working framework for both researchers and managers," he pointed out.

As the article states, "the Water Framework Directive stipulates that river ecosystems need to be assessed not only from the point of view of their structure but also from that of the way they function, because that way it is possible to obtain a better estimate of a river's ecological status". The researcher draws an analogy with the human body: "If a patient is only checked to see whether he/she actually has a heart, lungs and kidneys, while the heart rate, the volume of air breathed and what the kidneys filter are not measured, the health status of the patient is not being properly assessed or, as in our case, the ecological status of the ecosystem being measured".

Read more at University of the Basque Country

Image: Members of the UPV/EHU's Stream Ecology Group measuring the self-purification capacity of a river using an addition of nutrients. (Credit: Arturo Elosegi / UPV/EHU)

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