Distinct indicators of land use and hydrology characterize different aspects of riverine phytoplankton communities

Qu, Yueming; Wu, Naicheng; Guse, Björn; Fohrer, Nicola. 2022 Distinct indicators of land use and hydrology characterize different aspects of riverine phytoplankton communities. Science of the Total Environment, 581 (2), 158209. 10, pp.

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Given the many threats to freshwater biodiversity, we need to be able to resolve which of the multiple stressors present in rivers are most important in driving change. Phytoplankton are a key component of the aquatic ecosystem, their abundance, species richness and functional richness are important indicators of ecosystem health. In this study, spatial variables, physiochemical conditions, water flow alterations and land use patterns were considered as the joint stressors from a lowland rural catchment. A modeling approach combining an ecohydrological model with machine learning was applied. The results implied that land use and flow regime, rather than nutrients, were most important in explaining differences in the phytoplankton community. In particular, the percentage of water body area and medium level residential urban area were key to driving the rising phytoplankton abundance in this rural catchment. The proportion of forest and pasture area were the leading factors controlling the variations of species richness. In this case deciduous forest cover affected the species richness in a positive way, while, pasture share had a negative effect. Indicators of hydrological alteration were found to be the best predictors for the differences in functional richness. This integrated model framework was found to be suitable for analysis of complex environmental conditions in river basin management. A key message would be the significance of forest area preservation and ecohydrological restoration in maintaining both phytoplankton richness and their functional role in river ecosystems.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Pollution (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 0048-9697
Additional Keywords: riverine phytoplankton community, multiple stressors, integrated models, river basin management
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 09 Sep 2022 11:23 +0 (UTC)

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