CESAM members publish their work on the effect of salinization in freshwater ecosystems
Published in 18/1/2019
Isabel Lopes and Cátia Venâncio, researchers from the Associated Laboratory CESAM and the Department of Biology at the University of Aveiro are authors of one of the 23 articles published in Philosophical Transactions B under the theme issue "Salt in freshwaters: causes, ecological consequences and future prospects".
Salinization of freshwaters ecosystems is a growing and global threat. Within the climate change scenario, sea level rise will a major driver of increased salinity in low-lying coastal ecosystems. Increased salinity may cause a severe reduction in aquatic biodiversity, leading to the disruption of ecosystem processes and compromising the goods and services that freshwater ecosystems may provide.
The research, entitled "Sensitivity of freshwater species under single and multigenerational exposure to seawater intrusion", evaluated the effects of salinity increase in several freshwater species representative of different trophic levels (algae, aquatic plants, crustaceans, insects, snails). The results showed that salinity levels that will be easily find in low-lying freshwater ecosystems in the future may influence the resilience of several species, namely freshwater microcrustaceans. These microcrustaceans are important food sources for small fish and prevent the proliferation of microalgae. This might mean that even small increments in salinity may, indirectly, influence the resilience of the species more tolerant to salinity. This situation is even more concerning if we take into account that most of the studied organisms continue to show low tolerance with salinity rise even when exposed through several generations. This conclusion highlights the vulnerability of aquatic biota to salinization.
This work was developed within the project SALTFREE – Prediction of salinization effects on coastal freshwater and soil ecosystems due to climate changes, financially supported by FCT. The work had as co-authors Bruno Branco Castro (Departamento de Biologia, Universidade do Minho), Rui Ribeiro (Departamento de Ciências da Vida, Universidade de Coimbra), Sara Antunes (Departamento de Biologia, Universidade do Porto), Nelson Abrantes (Departamento de Ambiente e Ordenamento, Universidade de Aveiro), Amadeu M.V.M. Soares (Departamento de Biologia, Universidade de Aveiro). The article can be read here.