Sustaining Freshwater Biodiversity in the Anthropocene

  • Jaime Garcia-Moreno
  • Ian J. Harrison
  • D. Dudgeon
  • V. Clausnitzer
  • W. Darwall
  • T. Farrell
  • C. Savy
  • K. Tockner
  • N. Tubbs
Part of the Springer Water book series (SPWA)


Globally, fresh water is a limited resource, covering only about 0.8 % of the world’s surface area. With over 126,000 species living in its ecosystems, freshwater harbours a disproportionate share of the planet’s biodiversity; it is essential for life, and central to satisfying human development needs. However, as we enter the Anthropocene, multiple threats are affecting freshwater systems at a global scale. The combined challenges of an increasing need for water from a growing and wealthier human population, and the uncertainty of how to adapt to definite but unpredictable climate change, significantly add to this stress. It is imperative that landscape managers and policy-makers think carefully about strategic adaptive management of freshwater systems in order to both effectively conserve natural ecosystems, and the plants and animals that live within, and continue to supply human populations with the freshwater benefits they need. Maintaining freshwater biodiversity is necessary to ensure the functioning of freshwater ecosystems and thereby secure the benefits they can provide for people. Thus freshwater biodiversity is also an important element of viable economic alternatives for the sustainable use of the freshwater ecosystems natural capital. In order to achieve this we need to do a better job at monitoring our freshwater biodiversity, understanding how the ecosystems function, and evaluating what that means in terms of service delivery.


Protected Area Freshwater Ecosystem Freshwater Species Water Security Freshwater Biodiversity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors are grateful to the Amphibian Survival Alliance and Bio-Fresh for sponsoring the symposium “Biodiversity Freshwater Ecosystems: Status, Trends, Pressures, and Conservation Priorities” at the Global Water System Project meeting on ‘Water in the Anthropocene’ (May, 2013), which was attended by most authors (DD, IH, JGM, KT, NT, VC) and primed the writing of this chapter. The authors also want to thank Michele Thieme (WWF-US) for comments on the manuscript. Robin Abell (WWF-US) and Jamie Pittock (Australian National University) also kindly checked the manuscript and allowed use of content from previous collaborations, including permission to use a figure first published by Abell et al. (2007). Jonathan Loh (WWF/ZSL) kindly gave access to the most current Living Planet Index figures. Alex Mauroner (Conservation International Intern, Center for Environment and Peace) adapted Tables 17.1 and 17.2 from the originals. Kurt Buhlmann provided us with a recent picture of the Kihansi Spray Toad. Ian Harrison is grateful to the Department of Ichthyology, American Museum of Natural History, New York for granting him Research Associate status, and to the staff of the Museum library for assisting in locating published materials; he is also grateful to Columbia University, New York for granting Adjunct Research Scientist Status (for Center for Environmental Research and Conservation) and External Affiliate Status (Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology) and allowing access the library facilities. This manuscript represents the view of individual authors and not necessarily that of the organisations they represent.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jaime Garcia-Moreno
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ian J. Harrison
    • 3
    • 4
  • D. Dudgeon
    • 5
  • V. Clausnitzer
    • 6
  • W. Darwall
    • 7
  • T. Farrell
    • 8
  • C. Savy
    • 9
  • K. Tockner
    • 10
  • N. Tubbs
    • 11
  1. 1.Amphibian Survival AllianceAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.ArnhemThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Conservation International, Center for Environment and PeaceArlingtonUSA
  4. 4.FlagstaffUSA
  5. 5.School of Biological SciencesThe University of Hong KongHong Kong SARChina
  6. 6.Senckenberg Museum of Natural History GörlitzGörlitzGermany
  7. 7.Freshwater Biodiversity UnitIUCN Global Species ProgrammeCambridgeUK
  8. 8.Conservation International, Greater Mekong ProgrammePhnom PenhCambodia
  9. 9.International Finance CorporationWashingtonUSA
  10. 10.Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland FisheriesBerlinGermany
  11. 11.The Royal Society for the Protection of BirdsUK HeadquartersBedfordshireUK

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