Now showing 1 - 3 of 3
  • Publication
    ESManage Programme: Irish Freshwater Resources and Assessment of Ecosystem Services Provision
    Freshwater is vital for all forms of life and it is a key requirement in almost all human activities. The societal importance of water has been highlighted by the United Nations, with access to clean water and sanitation regarded as a universal human right. Consequently, the sustainable management of freshwater resources has gained importance at regional, international and global scales. However, the activities of humankind affect freshwater resources extensively, in terms of both quantity and quality, through a variety of activities ranging from abstraction of water for drinking and irrigation to waste disposal. Today, worldwide freshwater ecosystems are undergreat pressure and are one of the most endangered ecosystems. Furthermore, climate change, especially in relation to precipitation patterns and flooding, will result in the traditional norms being replaced with increased variability and unpredictability, with knock-on effects for human societies and well-being.
  • Publication
    The impact of a catastrophic storm event on benthic macroinvertebrate communities in upland headwater streams and potential implications for ecological diversity and assessment of ecological status
    Upland headwater streams are dynamic systems, responding rapidly to changes in climatic conditions. This study examined the effects of a catastrophic rainfall event, that occured on 24 October 2011 on the east coast of Ireland, on the macroinvertebrate community composition and structure of four headwater streams in the river Liffey catchment located in the Wicklow Mountains. The ecological status before and after the storm were also evaluated. The water level and pH of each stream were recorded using continuous monitoring equipment, while rainfall data for the study period were sourced from a local weather station. Benthic macroinvertebrates were investigated before and after the storm event using Surber sampling. Results showed rapid and large increases in water level and significant declines in stream pH in response to intensive rainfall during the storm. The high water levels also caused major physical damage and abrasion in all four streams, that significantly altered instream habitats. The storm event induced significant losses to the richness and/or density of most taxonomic groups, with the exception of the Plecoptera. Furthermore, the overall community composition and structure changed significantly, most likely as a result of physical disturbance, given the relative persistence of acid-sensitive taxa and the relatively short period of harsh acidic conditions (<5 pH). Interestingly however, the ecological status of each of the four study sites, tested using Stream Risk Score (SSRS), Biological Monitoring Working Party (BMWP) and the Average Score Per Taxon (ASPT) indices, was unaltered by the loss in richness and densities. This was likely a result of the maintenance of plecopteran richness and the absence of organic pollution, thus highlighting the need to develop appropriate indices to assess the ecological status of streams and rivers affected by physical disturbance caused by large storm events. Ultimately, catastrophic storm events in upland headwater streams have potentially major implications for the maintenance of regional macroinvertebrate diversity within affected regions.
  • Publication
    Incorporation of Ecosystem Services values in the Integrated Management of Irish Freshwater Resources - ESManage
    The ESManage project tested an eight-step methodological framework to help embed ecosystem services and the ecosystem services approach into policy and decision-making for the sustainable management of water resources, as required by the Water Framework Directive (WFD). It involved identification of relevant freshwater ecosystem services, prediction of how they change when management measures are implemented and economic valuation of those changes. The focus of the research was on ecosystem services from rivers, engaging stakeholders in three case study catchments to explore the ecosystem services derived from these very different rivers and undertake economic valuation of the benefits that people obtain from enhancements to ecosystem services in those rivers. Modelling, using both a hydrological and a nutrient load apportionment model, was used to quantify changes in flows and inputs of pollutants (nutrients and sediment) associated with the alternative catchment management scenarios (e.g. intensification, extensification and riparian measures such as tree planting), whereas Bayesian belief network modelling was used to predict the resulting changes in ecological responses and their effects on selected ecosystem services (e.g. clean water, angling, wildlife). The focus was on managing diffuse pollution from agriculture, assuming unchanged inputs from domestic septic tanks and point sources, e.g. wastewater treatment plants, that also contribute to water quality problems in the study catchments. The intensification scenarios considered potentially pro rata changes in nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment inputs assumed to arise from an increase in stocking density, whereas extensification related to the corresponding effects as a result of reductions in stocking density. The “choice experiment” valuation technique was then used to quantify the economic benefits that people obtained from enhancements to river ecosystem services. In addition, data were collected on the cost of wastewater treatment to demonstrate the benefits of natural regulating ecosystem services.