Dawson, Terry P., Berry, Pam M. and Kampa, E.
Climate change impacts on freshwater wetland habitats
Journal of Nature Conservation, 11, (1), . (doi:10.1078/1617-1381-00031).
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Wetland ecosystems are important habitats for flora and fauna and hence are of national and international importance for conservation. Wetlands can be defined as areas of high groundwater environments that are characterised by permanent (shallow water bodies) or temporary inundation, or soils having hydric properties. They provide a number of critical ecological functions, including the regulation of water regimes, and support a significant percentage of the world's biodiversity that have adapted to life in saturated conditions. Wetland ecosystems depend on water levels and therefore climate change, especially changes in precipitation, is likely to have a significant impact on these habitats and associated species. A modelling assessment of water balance was undertaken for the UK and Ireland using current and future climate scenarios. Results showed that water availability could increase in winter across the whole region, and northwest Ireland and northwest Scotland could have a small increase in water availability in the summer. Other regions would experience little change or have decreased water availability during the summer months; this being most severe in southeast England. A local-scale study of a wetland habitat in East Anglia indicated that significant seasonal stresses could occur due to climate change and the associated lowering of water levels.
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