such as "Introduction", "Conclusion"..etc
An international research team has used the Guadiana River basin, in
which 92% of the species are under threat, as a reference point to
measure the loss of aquatic biodiversity and its conservation value. A
new study reveals that the state of fragmentation of Iberian river
basins is "seriously endangering" the freshwater fish that inhabit them,
and highlights the need to create new protected aquatic reserves.
"At present, conservation of waterways is both insufficient and
inefficient, as water courses within nature reserves are nearly always
used simply as administrative boundaries that do not guarantee the
conservation of aquatic biodiversity", Virgilio Hemoso, chief author of
the new study and a researcher at the University of Queensland,
Australia, tells SINC.
The study, which has been published in the latest issue of Hydrobiologia,
is based on the premise that there are few nature reserves for the
conservation of aquatic biodiversity. "Rivers have been treated as being
of secondary importance, unless they represent an opportunity to
conserve the land environment", Hermoso adds.
To date, the criteria used to select protected areas have had
"nothing to do with conservation", the scientist points out. Factors
such as scenic value, lack of development, inaccessibility and low
potential for commercial use are applied to select areas, resulting in
"conservation strategies focused on areas that are the easiest to
protect and with the least need for short-term protection."
In order to design a reserve system that protects aquatic
biodiversity, the biologists evaluated the fish communities in the
Guadiana River basin. With so few resources being devoted to
conservation, and conservation itself competing with other human uses,
the researcher stresses that "it is more sensible to focus conservation
efforts on water courses with healthy populations".
In order to do this, the team measured potential biodiversity loss
and calculated the conservation value. Their method highlights areas
that have not suffered significant losses of biodiversity and which "are
therefore worthy of special attention."
Guadiana River basin, a reference point in conservation
In the context of the Mediterranean, the Guadiana River basin stands
out due to both its richness in freshwater fish species, "which is only
comparable to that found in two other river basins: the River Po in
northern Italy and the River Orontes in southern Turkey", and the degree
to which it is threatened. "This makes it an ideal place to hone tools
and processes which could be applied to other Mediterranean river
basins", Hermoso states.
One of the main problems in the conservation of aquatic ecosystems is
the lack of any evaluation of the biodiversity in areas under threat.
Hermoso stresses: "Given the high degree of fragmentation of Iberian
river basins, we need new studies to analyse the importance of the
best-conserved areas and to design a system of reserves to protect all
The team is now studying how to incorporate criteria relating to
connectivity, ecological processes and the effects of climate change
into the design of aquatic reserves. "These aspects are essential in
order to ensure our reserves are able to react to future changes and to
consolidate the long-term survival of species," Hermoso insists.
However, according to the scientist, "the best-conserved areas are
not necessarily representative, and do not cover the needs of all the
species in the reserves, such as migratory species or those which live
downstream, experiencing high stress levels in areas where conservation
The biologists are in no doubt: incorporating degraded areas into the
current aquatic reserve system would provide new opportunities for the
conservation of biodiversity.
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