Objectives in detail

i) quantify the relationship between river biodiversity and four ecosystem services that depend on biodiversity: water quality regulation; decomposition; fish production and fisheries; and the cultural value river birds
ii) determine how these services respond to change in land use and climate.

There are five specific objectives:

Objective 1: Meta-analysis of the ecosystem services of temperate rivers

Provide a data inventory of the ecosystems services delivered by temperate rivers, the ecosystem processes that underpin them and the organisms or functions that are involved.

Objective 2: Biodiversity – ecosystem process interactions

Quantify how biodiversity, ecosystem processes and services are linked.  At scales from experimental reaches to whole drainage basins, DURESS will manipulate, measure and model variation in riverine food webs (microbes, invertebrates, fishes and birds) as well as the processes to which they give rise.  We will determine the consequences of changing biodiversity for the quality and quantity of ecosystem services in response to land-use and climate change.

Objective 3: Time series modeling of ecosystem function & resilience

Identify factors affecting resilience and hence potential thresholds in ecosystem service delivery in the face of  likely changes in catchment land use, management and climate.  Use time series analysis to forecast variations in species assemblages and ecosystem functions under climate-land use combinations for whole food webs.  Evaluate aspects of biodiversity (from genes to food webs) important to service resilience.  Identify any time lags in responses to environmental change that might affect future monitoring and answer the question: what are the critical levels of biodiversity necessary to safeguard river ecosystem services against tipping points that might jeopardise societal need?

Objective 4: Land-use & climate impacts on biodiversity

Assess how changes in catchment land use, management and climate might affect river biodiversity in 2 steps. First, develop catchment land use, management and climate scenarios. Secondly, assess links between distributed changes in land use, climate, river ecological variables and river biota using classical regression (GAM) and time series models. This will answer the question: how will predicted changes in river character alter current biodiversity? It will also provide measures of river condition that indicate biodiversity-dependent services.

Objective 5: Valuation of ecosystem services

Evaluate the economic and health benefits or costs associated with changes to provisioning, regulating, and cultural services. The valuation exercise will capture the impact of future scenarios on service delivery, and the specific contribution that river biodiversity makes to ecosystem services.  Explore how different ecosystem service values vary across space. Suggest operational valuation tools or measures to implement the ecosystem service approach for rivers.