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Managing multiple stressors in European water bodies: reporting on MARS progress

October 6, 2016
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The MARS Work Package 6 Team at the Centre for Hydrology and Ecology in Edinburgh. Image: Christian Feld

Work in the EU MARS Project (which supports this blog) is currently gaining pace, as results from experiments and catchment modelling on the impacts of multiple stressors in European water bodies are increasingly available. Last week, a team of MARS scientists working on potential scenarios for multiple stressor management in Europe met at the Centre for Hydrology and Ecology in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Following the meeting, the team report that they now have sufficient evidence on the effects of multiple stressors in freshwater systems in Europe to provide new insights into these previously partially understood water management challenges. The next step is to synthesise the knowledge in a digestible way, to come up with practical guidance for water managers.

Such guidance would particularly focus on stressors interactions and stressors hierarchies, to support water managers attempting to mitigate the effects of multiple stresses and seeking to understand the potential effectiveness of different strategies. For example a management question might be: “in a fragmented, nutrient-rich stream ecosystem, what happens to aquatic life and ecosystem services when we remove barriers such as dams and weirs?” There are tools in MARS being developed that help detect both stressor interactions and hierarchies.

Reporting back on the meeting, MARS and CEH scientist Stephen Thackeray said, “My major feeling from the meeting was that there was a great deal of enthusiasm amongst the members of the team to not only develop our scientific understanding of the impacts of multiple stressors on water bodies, but also to translate this understanding into tools and messages that are useful and relevant for water body managers, and the wider community. We are planning some publications to outline what we feel are important next steps in this field of research.”

Another meeting participant, MARS scientist Christian Feld suggested some positive news, “Interestingly, the recently published deliverable 4.1 on the multiple-stressor analysis within the 16 MARS basin leads to the assumption that multiple stressors have a much less complicated role than expected, which may be a good message for European water managers.”

Find out more about the MARS project here.

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