An evaluation of freshwater monitoring programs in ILTER nodes and mountain national parks: identifying key variables to monitor global change effects

Peñas, Francisco J.; Álvarez-Cabria, Mario; Sáinz Bariáin, Marta; Mata Campo, Maria Pilar; Pérez-Haase, A.; Ventura, Marc; Polo-Gómez, María José; Alonso, Carlos; Granados, Ignacio; Morellón, Mario; Pérez-Martínez, Carmen; Rubio-Romero, Ángel; Carrillo, Presentación; Zamora-Muñoz, Carmen; Valladolid, María; Camarero, Lluís ; Gacia, Esperança; Puig, Mariàngels; Buchaca, Teresa; Barquín, José.  Biodiversity and Conservation : doi:10.1007/s10531-022-02466-x (2022)  DIGITAL CSIC   

Identifying and quantifying global change impacts on biotic and abiotic components of ecosystems is critical to promote an effective adaptation that increases the success of conservation strategies. To achieve this goal, global and regional assessment efforts require certain degree of harmonization on local monitoring programs to establish relevant comparisons at different spatio-temporal scales. Otherwise, the lack of harmonization might hinder the detection and assessment on the effects of human impacts. In this work we have compiled information on freshwater monitoring programs located in areas of intensive research and conservation interest: International Long Term Ecological Research (ILTER) nodes and mountain National Parks. We aimed at evaluating the quality and robustness of these programs to assess the impact of global change, addressing from the worldwide to the European and Spanish national scale. Results highlighted that freshwater monitoring programs lack a common strategy to monitor these ecosystems. Even at the continental and national scales, contrasting strategies and level of detail have been historically applied. Water quality, habitat and biodiversity are more commonly monitored than community structure and ecosystem functioning. Monitoring efforts on the Spanish Mountain National parks indicated differences on the targeted aquatic ecosystems. Rivers and lakes received a higher attention, while mires were rarely considered. Our results provide evidence that greater efforts should be directed towards constructing a coordinated strategy to monitor freshwater ecosystems at national, continental, and global scales. This strategy should involve a shared backbone of biophysical and biogeochemical variables for each habitat type on agreed protocols that are implemented across regions and administrative borders. Achieving this will support a substantial advance on the ecological research to further delineate proper conservation strategies to face the challenges imposed by global change.