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More than one million barriers fragment Europe's rivers

More than one million barriers fragment Europe's rivers
More than one million barriers fragment Europe's rivers
Rivers support some of Earth’s richest biodiversity1 and provide essential ecosystem services to society2, but they are often fragmented by barriers to free flow3. In Europe, attempts to quantify river connectivity have been hampered by the absence of a harmonized barrier database. Here we show that there are at least 1.2 million instream barriers in 36 European countries (with a mean density of 0.74 barriers per kilometre), 68 per cent of which are structures less than two metres in height that are often overlooked. Standardized walkover surveys along 2,715 kilometres of stream length for 147 rivers indicate that existing records underestimate barrier numbers by about 61 per cent. The highest barrier densities occur in the heavily modified rivers of central Europe and the lowest barrier densities occur in the most remote, sparsely populated alpine areas. Across Europe, the main predictors of barrier density are agricultural pressure, density of river-road crossings, extent of surface water and
elevation. Relatively unfragmented rivers are still found in the Balkans, the Baltic
states and parts of Scandinavia and southern Europe, but these require urgent
protection from proposed dam developments. Our findings could inform the
implementation of the EU Biodiversity Strategy, which aims to reconnect 25,000
kilometres of Europe’s rivers by 2030, but achieving this will require a paradigm shift in river restoration that recognizes the widespread impacts caused by small barriers.
0028-0836
436-441
Belleti, Barbara
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Garcia de Leaniz, Carlos
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Wildman, Laura
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Belleti, Barbara
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Segura, Gilles
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Castelletti, Andrea
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Consuegra, Sofia
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Vallesi, Sergio
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Verspoor, Eric
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Vowles, Andrew
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Wanningen, Herman
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Wantzen, Karl
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Wildman, Laura
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Zalewski, Maciej
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Belleti, Barbara, Garcia de Leaniz, Carlos, Jones, Joshua, Bizzi, Simone, Börger, Luca, Segura, Gilles, Castelletti, Andrea, Van de Bund, Wouter, Aarestrup, Kim, Barry, James, Belka, Kamila, Berkhuysen, Arjan, Birnie-Gauvin, Kim, Bussettini, Martina, Carolli, Mauro, Consuegra, Sofia, Dopico, Eduardo, Feierfeil, Tim, Fernandez, Sara, Fernandez Garrido, Pao, Garcia-Vazquez, Eva, Garrido, Sara, Giannico, Guillermo, Gough, Peter, Jepson, Niels, Jones, Peter, Kemp, Paul, Kerr, James, King, James, Lapinska, Malgorzata, Lazaro, Gloria, Lucas, Martyn C., Marcello, Lucio, Martin, Patrick, McGinnity, Phillip, O'Hanley, Jesse, Olivo Del Amo, Rosa, Parasiewicz, Piotrta, Pusch, Martin, Rincon, Ginzalo, Rodriguez, Cesar, Royte, Joshua, Till Schneider, Claus, Tummers, Jeroen, Vallesi, Sergio, Verspoor, Eric, Vowles, Andrew, Wanningen, Herman, Wantzen, Karl, Wildman, Laura and Zalewski, Maciej (2020) More than one million barriers fragment Europe's rivers. Nature, 588 (7838), 436-441. (doi:10.1038/s41586-020-3005-2).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Rivers support some of Earth’s richest biodiversity1 and provide essential ecosystem services to society2, but they are often fragmented by barriers to free flow3. In Europe, attempts to quantify river connectivity have been hampered by the absence of a harmonized barrier database. Here we show that there are at least 1.2 million instream barriers in 36 European countries (with a mean density of 0.74 barriers per kilometre), 68 per cent of which are structures less than two metres in height that are often overlooked. Standardized walkover surveys along 2,715 kilometres of stream length for 147 rivers indicate that existing records underestimate barrier numbers by about 61 per cent. The highest barrier densities occur in the heavily modified rivers of central Europe and the lowest barrier densities occur in the most remote, sparsely populated alpine areas. Across Europe, the main predictors of barrier density are agricultural pressure, density of river-road crossings, extent of surface water and
elevation. Relatively unfragmented rivers are still found in the Balkans, the Baltic
states and parts of Scandinavia and southern Europe, but these require urgent
protection from proposed dam developments. Our findings could inform the
implementation of the EU Biodiversity Strategy, which aims to reconnect 25,000
kilometres of Europe’s rivers by 2030, but achieving this will require a paradigm shift in river restoration that recognizes the widespread impacts caused by small barriers.

This record has no associated files available for download.

More information

Accepted/In Press date: 26 October 2020
e-pub ahead of print date: 16 December 2020
Published date: 17 December 2020

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 445669
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/445669
ISSN: 0028-0836
PURE UUID: 8226138c-6666-4622-8719-762c3ad7a033
ORCID for Paul Kemp: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-4470-0589
ORCID for James Kerr: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-2990-7293
ORCID for Andrew Vowles: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-8253-5938

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 05 Jan 2021 17:34
Last modified: 13 Aug 2022 01:47

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Contributors

Author: Barbara Belleti
Author: Carlos Garcia de Leaniz
Author: Joshua Jones
Author: Simone Bizzi
Author: Luca Börger
Author: Gilles Segura
Author: Andrea Castelletti
Author: Wouter Van de Bund
Author: Kim Aarestrup
Author: James Barry
Author: Kamila Belka
Author: Arjan Berkhuysen
Author: Kim Birnie-Gauvin
Author: Martina Bussettini
Author: Mauro Carolli
Author: Sofia Consuegra
Author: Eduardo Dopico
Author: Tim Feierfeil
Author: Sara Fernandez
Author: Pao Fernandez Garrido
Author: Eva Garcia-Vazquez
Author: Sara Garrido
Author: Guillermo Giannico
Author: Peter Gough
Author: Niels Jepson
Author: Peter Jones
Author: Paul Kemp ORCID iD
Author: James Kerr ORCID iD
Author: James King
Author: Malgorzata Lapinska
Author: Gloria Lazaro
Author: Martyn C. Lucas
Author: Lucio Marcello
Author: Patrick Martin
Author: Phillip McGinnity
Author: Jesse O'Hanley
Author: Rosa Olivo Del Amo
Author: Piotrta Parasiewicz
Author: Martin Pusch
Author: Ginzalo Rincon
Author: Cesar Rodriguez
Author: Joshua Royte
Author: Claus Till Schneider
Author: Jeroen Tummers
Author: Sergio Vallesi
Author: Eric Verspoor
Author: Andrew Vowles ORCID iD
Author: Herman Wanningen
Author: Karl Wantzen
Author: Laura Wildman
Author: Maciej Zalewski

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