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People, pollution and pathogens - Global change impacts in mountain freshwater ecosystems

New publication by Dirk S Schmeller, Adeline Loyau, Kunshan Bao, Werner Brack, Antonis Chatzinotas, Francois De Vleeschouwer, Jan Friesen, Laure Gandois, Sophia V Hansson, Marilen Haver, Gaël Le Roux, Ji Shen, Roman Teisserenc, Vance T Vredenburg


Mountain catchments provide for the livelihood of more than half of humankind, and have become a key destination for tourist and recreation activities globally. Mountain ecosystems are generally considered to be less complex and less species diverse due to the harsh environmental conditions. As such, they are also more sensitive to the various impacts of the Anthropocene. For this reason, mountain regions may serve as sentinels of change and provide ideal ecosystems for studying climate and global change impacts on biodiversity. We here review different facets of anthropogenic impacts on mountain freshwater ecosystems. We put particular focus on micropollutants and their distribution and redistribution due to hydrological extremes, their direct influence on water quality and their indirect influence on ecosystem health via changes of freshwater species and their interactions. We show that those changes may drive pathogen establishment in new environments with harmful consequences for freshwater species, but also for the human population. Based on the reviewed literature, we recommend reconstructing the recent past of anthropogenic impact through sediment analyses, to focus efforts on small, but highly productive waterbodies, and to collect data on the occurrence and variability of microorganisms, biofilms, plankton species and key species, such as amphibians due to their bioindicator value for ecosystem health and water quality. The newly gained knowledge can then be used to develop a comprehensive framework of indicators to robustly inform policy and decision making on current and future risks for ecosystem health and human well-being.


DOI 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.12.006