Predicting nature recovery for river restoration planning and ecological assessment: a case study from England, 1991–2042

Wilkes, Martin A.; Mungee, Mansi; Naura, Marc; Bell, Vicky A. ORCID:; Brown, Lee E.. 2024 Predicting nature recovery for river restoration planning and ecological assessment: a case study from England, 1991–2042. River Research and Applications. 14, pp.

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The Global Biodiversity Framework established ambitious goals for nature recovery which governments must now incorporate into national legislation. In England, legally binding targets require authorities to halt the decline in species abundance by 2030 and reverse the decline by 2042. Riverine invertebrates represent a substantial proportion of the species contributing towards the targets. Thus, understanding the response of these species to potential river restoration actions is key to target delivery. We model counts for 188 riverine invertebrate taxa using zero-inflated generalized Poisson models, applying the models to both inform river restoration planning and set expected values for use in ecological assessment. We identify catchment-specific restoration strategies that combine one or more actions involving the removal of channel modifications, reductions in nitrate concentrations and reductions in total dissolved phosphorus concentrations as the most likely to deliver species abundance targets across three joint climate–socioeconomic scenarios. By hindcasting species abundances under alternative target frameworks, we also demonstrate a new approach to setting expected values in ecological assessment, accounting for changes in water temperature and hydrology that confound historical reference models presently used by regulators. Our findings represent the first systematic attempt to prioritise major actions to deliver species abundance targets in England, providing valuable insights for policymakers, river restoration practitioners and authorities responsible for monitoring river ecosystems.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Hydro-climate Risks (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 1535-1459
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: biodiversity modelling, ecological assessment, invertebrates, nature recovery, river restoration, species abundance target
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 11 Apr 2024 11:54 +0 (UTC)

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