Securing biodiversity, functional integrity and ecosystem services in DRYing rivER networks
River networks are among Earth’s most threatened hot-spots of biodiversity and provide key ecosystem services (eg. supply drinking water and food, climate regulation) essential to sustaining human well-being. Climate change and increased human water use are causing more rivers and streams to dry, with devastating impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem services. Currently, over half the global river network consist of drying channels and these are expanding dramatically. However, drying river networks (DRNs) have received little attention from scientists and policy makers, and the public is unaware of their importance. Consequently, there is no effective integrated biodiversity conservation or ecoystem management strategy of DRNs facing climate change.
A multidisciplinary team of 25 experts from 11 countries in Europe, South America, China and the USA will build on EU efforts to investigate how climate change, through changes in flow regimes and water use, has cascading impacts on biodiversity, ecosystem functions and ecosystem services of DRNs. DRYvER (DRYing riVER networks) will gather and upscale empirical and modelling data from nine focal DRNs (case studies) in the EU and CELAC to develop a meta-system framework applicable to Europe and worldwide. It will also generate crucial knowledge based strategies, tools and guidelines for cost-effictive adaptive management of DRNs. Working closely with stakeholders and end-users, DRYvER will co-develop strategies to mitigate and adapt to climate change effects in DRNs, integrating hydrological, ecological (including nature-based solutions), socio-economic and policy perspectives. The end results of DRYvER will contribute to reaching the objectives of the Paris Agreement and place Europe at the forefront of research on climate changes.