Critical catchments for freshwater biodiversity conservation in Europe: identification, prioritisation and gap analysis

Savrina F. Carrizo, Szabolcs Lengyel, Felícia Kapusi, Márton Szabolcs, Hans D. Kasperidus, Mathias Scholz, Danijela Markovic, Jörg Freyhof, Núria Cid, Ana C. Cardoso, William Darwall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The conservation of freshwater ecosystems has lagged behind that of marine and terrestrial ecosystems and often requires the integration of large-scale approaches and transboundary considerations. This study aims to set the foundations of a spatial conservation strategy by identifying the most important catchments for the conservation of freshwater biodiversity in Europe. Using data on 1296 species of fish, mollusc, odonate and aquatic plant, and the key biodiversity area criteria (species Red List status, range restriction and uniqueness of species assemblages), we identified a network of Critical Catchments for the conservation of freshwater biodiversity. Applying spatial prioritisation, we show how the prioritised network differs from the ideal case of protecting all Critical Catchments and how it changes when protected areas are included, and we also identify gaps between the prioritised network and existing protected areas. Critical Catchments (n = 8423) covered 45% of the area of Europe, with 766 qualifying (‘trigger’) species located primarily in southern Europe. The prioritised network, limited to 17% of the area of Europe, comprised 3492 catchments mostly in southern and eastern Europe and species targets were met for at least 96% of the trigger species. We found the majority of Critical Catchments to be inadequately covered by protected areas. However, our prioritised network presents a possible solution to augment protected areas to meet policy targets while also achieving good species coverage. Policy implications. While Critical Catchments cover almost half of Europe, priority catchments are mostly in southern and eastern Europe where the current level of protection is not sufficient. This study presents a foundation for a Europe-wide systematic conservation plan to ensure the persistence of freshwater biodiversity. Our study provides a powerful new tool for optimising investment on the conservation of freshwater biodiversity and for meeting targets set forth in international biodiversity policies, conventions and strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1209-1218
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Applied Ecology
Volume54
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017

Keywords

  • Marxan
  • alliance for zero extinction
  • dragonfly
  • fishing and fishery
  • key biodiversity area
  • reserve design
  • snail, mussel and clam
  • systematic conservation planning
  • threatened species
  • watershed management and restoration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology

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  • Cite this

    Carrizo, S. F., Lengyel, S., Kapusi, F., Szabolcs, M., Kasperidus, H. D., Scholz, M., Markovic, D., Freyhof, J., Cid, N., Cardoso, A. C., & Darwall, W. (2017). Critical catchments for freshwater biodiversity conservation in Europe: identification, prioritisation and gap analysis. Journal of Applied Ecology, 54(4), 1209-1218. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2664.12842