Methods for assessing anthropogenic threats to freshwater ecosystems biodiversity

  • D. Y. Reshetniak Dnipropetrovsk National University Oles Gonchar
Keywords: aquatic ecosystem, biological community, biodiversity, integrated index, geographic information system technology


The industrial and agricultural activities of mankind, which includes chemical pollution, building of dams and hydroelectric power stations and their use of the biomass of freshwater ecosystems, have had considerable impacts on freshwater ecosystems, the abundance of aquatic species, and the vital capacity of those species’ populations. A variety of aquatic organisms are feasible indicators and they can be used for evaluation water quality through analysis of their population diversity, composition and abundance. The most significant threats for freshwater biodiversity and the integrity of aquatic ecosystems are activities in the watershed’s terrestrial realm, disturbances occurring in aquatic and riparian environments and threats that affect freshwater organisms. There are changes of functional structure of biological community due to reducing biodiversity and the dominance of opportunistic species. A lot of changes in characteristics of biological communities can be assessed by using different kinds of evaluations, including the index of biological integrity, saprobity system and geographic information system technology. An effective predictor of great number of disturbances to freshwater ecosystems is the density of human population. Approaches that directly evaluate the level of threat to freshwater biodiversity typically use species composition and abundance data. Methods that indirectly assess the biotic community evaluate the ecological integrity of aquatic ecosystems. For large-scale, resource-limited, time-constrained biodiversity conservation planning, the most appropriate method for assessing the impairment of freshwater systems is relativistic evaluation of biological integrity using geospatial data. For aquatic threat assessments, the most meaningful level of analysis is the drainage basin and its subbasins. The concept of ecoregions covers all freshwater ecosystems. This approach provides biologically meaningful units for further large-scale studies of existing and potential threats to biodiversity. The size of drainage basins can be defined from digital elevation models, which exist as global network in high quality resolution. At the level of drainage basin, using high-resolution remote sensing imagery is often feasible from a financial and workload perspective. 

Author Biography

D. Y. Reshetniak, Dnipropetrovsk National University Oles Gonchar
Dnipropetrovsk National University Oles Gonchar


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How to Cite
Reshetniak, D. (2017). Methods for assessing anthropogenic threats to freshwater ecosystems biodiversity. Journal of Geology, Geography and Geoecology, 25(1), 71-79.