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Defining recovery potential in river restoration: a biological data-driven approach

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posted on 2022-03-25, 16:13 authored by Martin A Wilkes, Morwenna MckenzieMorwenna Mckenzie, Marc Naura, Laura Allen, Mike Morris, Marco Van De Wiel, Alex J Dumbrell, Alessia Bani, Craig Lashford, Tom Lavers, Judy England
Scientists and practitioners working on river restoration have made progress on understanding the recovery potential of rivers from geomorphological and engineering perspectives. We now need to build on this work to gain a better understanding of the biological processes involved in river restoration. Environmental policy agendas are focusing on nature recovery, reigniting debates about the use of “natural” reference conditions as benchmarks for ecosystem restoration. We argue that the search for natural or semi-natural analogues to guide restoration planning is inappropriate due to the absence of contemporary reference conditions. With a catchment-scale case study on the invertebrate communities of the Warwickshire Avon, a fifth-order river system in England, we demonstrate an alternative to the reference condition approach. Under our model, recovery potential is quantified based on the gap between observed biodiversity at a site and the biodiversity predicted to occur in that location under alternative management scenarios. We predict that commonly applied restoration measures such as reduced nutrient inputs and the removal of channel resectioning could be detrimental to invertebrate diversity, if applied indiscriminately and without other complementary measures. Instead, our results suggest considerable potential for increases in biodiversity when restoration measures are combined in a way that maximises biodiversity within each water body.

Funding

Severn Rivers Trust and Coventry University match-funded PhD studentship agreement

History

School

  • Social Sciences and Humanities

Department

  • Geography and Environment

Published in

Water

Volume

13

Issue

23

Publisher

MDPI AG

Version

  • VoR (Version of Record)

Rights holder

© The Authors

Publisher statement

This is an Open Access Article. It is published by MDPI under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0). Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Acceptance date

2021-11-23

Publication date

2021-11-24

Copyright date

2021

eISSN

2073-4441

Language

  • en

Depositor

Dr Morwenna Mckenzie. Deposit date: 25 March 2022

Article number

3339

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