FOEN study unveils the trajectory of European river biodiversity, showcasing initial recovery but subsequent stagnation. Urgent measures are crucial to counter pollution, invasive species, and climate change, preserving essential freshwater ecosystems.
An international study, including researchers from Switzerland’s Eawag, has revealed a rise in biodiversity across 22 European countries’ river systems since 1968, particularly among invertebrates like mayflies. However, progress has halted since 2010, highlighting the need for additional measures against pollution, invasive species, and climate change. Invertebrates like mayflies play crucial roles in filtering water and signaling water quality. Past efforts, such as wastewater treatment, have improved river health, but biological conditions remain inadequate due to mounting human pressures.
The study analyzed data from 1968 to 2020, showing significant species and functional diversity growth until 2010, with slower recovery in urban, farmland, and downstream areas. Warming also hindered biodiversity. Swiss researcher Florian Altermatt warned of extinctions, particularly in larger rivers, and stressed tailored attention to Switzerland’s unique patterns.
Urgent actions are recommended, including curbing agricultural pollutants, linking floodplains, and adapting river systems to climate change. The integration of biodiversity monitoring with environmental data collection is crucial for understanding fluctuations, drivers, and high-risk zones, fortifying biodiversity protection. In conclusion, initial progress in European river biodiversity demands immediate and comprehensive actions to counter stagnation and ongoing threats, ensuring the preservation of vital aquatic ecosystems.