, Volume 49, Issue 2, pp 531–540 | Cite as

Hidden treasures: Human-made aquatic ecosystems harbour unexplored opportunities

  • Matthias KoschorreckEmail author
  • Andrea S. Downing
  • Josef Hejzlar
  • Rafael Marcé
  • Alo Laas
  • Witold G. Arndt
  • Philipp S. Keller
  • Alfons J. P. Smolders
  • Gijs van Dijk
  • Sarian Kosten


Artificial water bodies like ditches, fish ponds, weirs, reservoirs, fish ladders, and irrigation channels are usually constructed and managed to optimize their intended purposes. However, human-made aquatic systems also have unintended consequences on ecosystem services and biogeochemical cycles. Knowledge about their functioning and possible additional ecosystem services is poor, especially compared to natural ecosystems. A GIS analysis indicates that currently only ~ 10% of European surface waters are covered by the European Water Framework directive, and that a considerable fraction of the excluded systems are likely human-made aquatic systems. There is a clear mismatch between the high possible significance of human-made water bodies and their low representation in scientific research and policy. We propose a research agenda to build an inventory of human-made aquatic ecosystems, support and advance research to further our understanding of the role of these systems in local and global biogeochemical cycles as well as to identify other benefits for society. We stress the need for studies that aim to optimize management of human-made aquatic systems considering all their functions and to support programs designed to overcome barriers of the adoption of optimized management strategies.


Artificial waterbodies Biogeochemistry Ecosystem services Water management 



MK and PSK were financially supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) (project TregaTa, KO 1911/6-1). JH was financially supported by the Grant Agency of the Czech Republic, project no. 17-09310S. RM was supported by project C-HydroChange funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness (CGL2017-86788-C3-2-P). AL was supported by Estonian Research Council Grants PSG 32 and IUT 21-2 of the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research. This study benefitted from the collaborative environment of the GLEON network.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PDF 1488 kb)


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© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department Lake ResearchHelmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZMagdeburgGermany
  2. 2.Stockholm Resilience CentreStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden
  3. 3.Institute of HydrobiologyBiology Centre of the Czech Academy of SciencesCeske BudejoviceCzechia
  4. 4.Catalan Institute for Water Research (ICRA)GironaSpain
  5. 5.Chair of Hydrobiology and Fishery, Institute of Agricultural and Environmental SciencesEstonian University of Life SciencesTartuEstonia
  6. 6.Eule GDIMünsterGermany
  7. 7.Institute of Landscape EcologyUniversity of MünsterMünsterGermany
  8. 8.B-WARE Research CentreNijmegenThe Netherlands
  9. 9.Department of Aquatic Ecology and Environmental Biology, Institute for Water and Wetland ResearchRadboud UniversityNijmegenThe Netherlands

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