The present review with focus on the last decade (2000–2010) aims to (i) collecting the major hypotheses explaining freshwater biodiversity patterns, (ii) identifying the main stressors affecting freshwater biodiversity, and (iii) revealing information gaps regarding ecosystem types, organism groups, spatial and temporal scales to highlight research needs to better propose sound conservation measures. The comparative analysis addresses six organism groups ranging from microorganisms to fish in basins, rivers, lakes, wetlands, ponds and groundwater. Short-term studies at ecoregion and catchment scale focusing on invertebrates, macrophytes and fish in Palaearctic and Nearctic regions dominated. The most frequent hypotheses tested were the landscape filter concept, the species–area relationship, the metacommunity concept. Dominating natural drivers were area, heterogeneity and disturbance. Land use, eutrophication and habitat destruction were identified as most important stressors. Generally, freshwater biodiversity declined in response to these stressors in contrast to increasing biodiversity determined by natural drivers across all ecosystems. Preferred organism groups were fish and invertebrates, most frequently studied in rivers, in contrast to smaller organisms (e.g. bacteria) and, e.g. groundwater being underrepresented. Hypotheses originating from the last century are still tested in freshwater research, while novel concepts are either missing or untested. Protection of freshwater biodiversity is the ultimate challenge since it supports valuable ecosystems services ensuring perpetuation of mankind. For that, comprehensive large-scale studies with holistic approaches are urgently needed.
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The authors would like to thank Mark Gessner providing valuable comments and Pablo Verde for helping in processing the literature on lakes. We also appreciate anonymous reviewers for constructive comments on the manuscript draft. This study is part of the BioFresh project (Biodiversity of Freshwater Ecosystems: Status, Trends, Pressures, and Conservation Priorities), funded by the European Union under the 7th Framework Programme, Theme 6 (Environment including Climate Change), Contract No. 226874.
Handling editor: Koen Martens
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Stendera, S., Adrian, R., Bonada, N. et al. Drivers and stressors of freshwater biodiversity patterns across different ecosystems and scales: a review. Hydrobiologia 696, 1–28 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10750-012-1183-0