Indicators and vulnerability assessment

We will derive innovative biological indicators (traits, functional response of benthic macroinvertebrates, algae, macrophytes and fish) for monitoring, assessment and evaluation of climate change impacts of temperature, flow and nutrients/organic material on adaptive management strategies in rivers. Existing large-scale data sets and species-specific ecological information will be analysed by using different types of response models and bioclimatic envelope modelling, and also by using time-series data and space-for-time substitution with known environmental changes related to climate change. We will develop response models for river habitats and new tools for vulnerability assessment incorporating connectivity and dispersal capacity. A handbook/guidelines and a database will be produced.

For lakes REFRESH will;

  1. identify ecological indicators and functional response parameters of temperature, water level and salinity and nutrients/organic material;
  2. identify climate change and lake restoration indicators;
  3. evaluate potential species traits indicators (benthic macroinvertebrates, algae, macrophytes and fish);
  4. assess which HD lake habitat types are most vulnerable to climate change; and
  5. develop new tools for vulnerability assessment in managed and restored lakes (including connectivity and dispersal issue at landscape scale). We will analyse existing large data sets, expand existing vulnerability assessments and establish a database of the key indicator values.

Similar indicators (species traits, functional responses) will be derived for riparian wetlands. For wetlands, indicators and vulnerability assessment tools are not available at such detailed level as for streams and lakes. We will combine existing large-scale data sets, new data from REFRESH, literature reviews and ecological information from databases and national projects. The focus will be on indicators that reflect the dynamics caused by climate change and act through various drivers (temperature, flooding, nutrient loading) and those indicative of recovery after restoration. A vulnerability assessment of red-listed and typical wetland species will be undertaken.

Ecosystem metabolism using mesocosm experimentsLeft: Investigation of ecosystem metabolism using mesocosm experiments. The black part is a probe used to measure the oxygen concentration in the mesocosm experiment in Lemming, Denmark. The probe has a small pump (grey part) which provides a water flow over the membrane and thus minimizes the growth of periphyton (algae).

Photo: Martin Søndergaard.