Ecological Studies Volume 214, 2011, pp 103-124
Date: 22 Dec 2010

Indicators for Assessing Threats to Freshwater Biodiversity from Humans and Human-Shaped Landscapes

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Abstract

Whereas high human population density generally indicates a stress to nearby aquatic communities, the opposite is not always true. Because freshwaters integrate disturbances from their upstream catchments and may also be affected by downstream activities via upstream–downstream connections, the location of humans and their impacts can be spatially disconnected. The latter part of this chapter focuses on threat assessments over large areas in which limited data are available. Whereas most aquatic conservation assessments have been undertaken in the data-rich temperate world, particularly in study areas covering mid- to small-size catchments, we illustrate approaches that are taken at the global, continental (Africa), and large river basin (Niger) levels, employing human population data. We conclude by discussing research priorities and the need to address key gaps in data that hinder assessment and ultimately impede managers’ abilities to mitigate threats.