Rivers and wetlands are already some the most threatened ecosystems on the planet and face growing pressures from an expanding human population. Many of the world’s larger river and wetland systems are fragmented by dams and flow regulation, with significant consequences for migratory species, fisheries and aquatic biodiversity.
There are major challenges for science to meet the knowledge needs to underpin the ecologically sustainable management of freshwater ecosystems under future scenarios of global change. Some of the critical knowledge needs are:
- the mechanisms responsible for shaping natural patterns of freshwater biodiversity;
- the implications of changing climate or water abstraction on the physical persistance of aquatic refugia;
- the ecological consequences of increasing fragmentation of river ecosystems from barriers, flow abstraction and climate change, and
- appropriate mitigation and adaptation strategies to maintain/restore river health and protect biodiversity through improvements in flow and habitat management.