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Securing biodiversity, functional integrity and ecosystem services in DRYing rivER networks

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - DRYvER (Securing biodiversity, functional integrity and ecosystem services in DRYing rivER networks)

Reporting period: 2020-09-01 to 2022-02-28

River networks are among Earth’s most threatened hot-spots of biodiversity. They act as ecological corridors for species and they safeguard biodiversity by linking terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems down to the sea. River networks also contribute substantially to the carbon cycle and provide key ecosystem services (e.g. drinking water and food, climate regulation).
Over 60% of the global river network include channels prone to drying and this is dramatically increasing worldwide. Shifts from permanent to intermittent flow regimes represent major tipping points for rivers, but 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 ecosystem management strategy of DRNs facing climate change.
The overall goal of DRYvER is to investigate how biodiversity, ecosystem functions, ecosystem services and their values in DRNs are directly and indirectly altered by climate change through empirical and modelling work at relevant spatial and temporal scales. DRYvER will provide knowledge-based strategies and tools for cost-effective adaptive management of DRNs.
WP1 Hydrological trajectories of DRNs under climate change
Hydrological trajectories in the 6 European catchments (including DRNs) considered in DRYvER (Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Hungary, Spain) have been modelled using the J2K model. This modelling activity also took place in CELAC DRNs: in Brazil – using WASA model, in Ecuador - based on the development of a dedicated monitoring network, and in Bolivia – focusing on the monitoring of streamflow and intermittence observations.
For the continental scale, updated WaterGAP historical outputs were disaggregated to get high-resolution monthly time series, and model set-ups were prepared for running future projections in the ISMIP framework. A global model was calibrated based on existing gauge stations with zero flows to quantify the current amount of flow intermittence across river networks.

WP2 Predicting biodiversity changes in DRNs
During the first period of DRYvER, WP2 focused on:
• Developing a metacommunity dynamic model to investigate biodiversity changes in DRNs.
• Compiling trait information on resistance and resilience abilities to drying for several freshwater organisms (i.e. bacteria, fungus, diatoms, macroinvertebrates and fish).
• Sampling for environmental conditions and biodiversity of bacteria, fungus, diatoms, macroinvertebrates and fish in each DRN in Europe and CELAC.
• Discussing about modelling methodologies among WPs to look for common strategies to predict and upscale biodiversity patterns from focal DRNs to Europe.

WP3 Predicting changes of ecosystem functions in DRNs
DRYvER successfully sampled 6 DRNs in Europe to measure stream metabolism, green-house gas emissions and organic matter dynamics and decomposition. CELAC partners also carried out particulate organic matter decomposition experiments following the same experimental design than in the European DRNs. DRYvER carried out laboratory analyses to obtain most of the data regarding dissolved organic matter properties and sediment properties. Furthermore, first steps to process and evaluate the quality of the data for stream metabolism and GHG have been done.
Beyond field work, WP3 has created the first version of the R package “I-Flume”, a meta-ecosystem model to analyse the influence of flow intermittency in the interaction between stream biota and resources in digital river networks.

WP4 Ecosystem services of DRN and their values networks
A draft conceptual model has been created regarding priority ecosystem services and application of this model has started at the DRN level. A first (high) level conceptual framework for valuation of DRNs has been generated. Stakeholder engagement has been increasing across DRNs to support case study valuation. A systematic literature review of the valuation literature of ecosystem services values in DRNs is underway to inform the value function in alignment with the conceptual framework. The first CELAC knowledge exchange workshop took place in mid-March 2022 covering aspects of the conceptual valuation framework, knowledge transfer on valuation methods and stakeholder engagement.

WP5 Adaptive Management of DRNs
A catalogue of Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) and other potential technological mitigation and adaptation measures is under review based on feedback by stakeholders to allow for development of innovative solutions focused on DRNs rather than perennial rivers and floodplains.
A questionnaire has been carried out among DRN case study leads to identify potential legislative and policy barriers and opportunities indicating a broad range of drivers, pressures and impacts.
The stakeholder mapping exercise showed that for several stakeholders, drying is not highly relevant, which may provide a barrier for effective stakeholder interaction and societal uptake of DRYvER deliverables.
The citizen science network has been launched according to plan and is running very well at each DRN. It will now expand to cover participating countries and ultimately, Europe.
The Stakeholder Committee (SHC) was established early 2021 composed by 1 -2 members representatives of each DRN countries.

WP6 Communication, dissemination, and capacity building
The Plan for Exploitation and Dissemination of Results (PEDR) was prepared, as well as communication materials (including templates, flyer, communication kit, website, social media…).
A Citizen Science mobile application and web application were created as tools that are useable by the scientific and non-scientific community. It is used for citizen science activities in WP5.
The first short-term scientific call has been successfully launched and 2 young researcher, including one from CELAC were awarded.
DRYvER builds on EU efforts to investigate how climate change has cascading impacts on biodiversity, ecosystem functions and ecosystem services (and their values) of DRNs. The main progress beyond the state of the art and impact include:
- collection, analysis and modelling of data from nine DRNs in Europe and South America to create a novel global meta-system approach that incorporates hydrology, socio-economics, ecology and biogeochemistry in order to craft strategies, tools and recommendations for adaptive management of river networks.
- Working in collaboration with resource managers and citizens to co-develop new strategies to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change on these networks by integrating quantitative and qualitative perspectives, including nature-based solutions with a strong socio-economic and legislative component. DRYvER will provide knowledge-based strategies and tools for cost-effective adaptive management of DRNs in the EU and worldwide.
Ultimately, DRYvER should contribute to the 2015 Paris Agreement objectives, which stress the need to protect biodiversity and secure the functional integrity of ecosystems, while fighting against climate change and adapting to its impacts.
DRYvER Cyclic Model to promote adaptive management