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Aquatic Transitions: Integrating records of aquatic change: existing evidence and missing data

Keyworth, Nottingham, UK
Workshop report
Contact person
Keely Mills
E-Mail address
Working groups
Meeting Category

This workshop constitutes the first meeting of the group members and other interested parties. It aims to identify both existing data and gaps in current research to create a meta-database. Priorities for analysis will be identified as will themes for subsequent meetings.

A detailed agenda for this meeting will follow in due course at:

Aquatic Transitions group overview

Global (e.g. The International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme; Future Earth) and local policymakers have defined an urgent need for understanding how aquatic systems function under increasing threats from human impacts (e.g. catchment disturbance, pollution) and climate changes.

Human activities have negatively impacted aquatic ecosystems and the services they provide through the release of contaminants and the abstraction and regulation of both surface and ground waters. Coupled with these anthropogenic stressors are those associated with long-term changes in temperature and effective precipitation (both past and projected).

Many aquatic systems exhibit a non-linear response to these pressures, with ecosystems either responding abruptly or showing a level of resilience until an (internal) threshold is breached. Many of the observed (and modelled) changes have existed in the past and so research on major transitions in aquatic systems represents a significant field of enquiry that demands contribution from both neo- and palaeo-ecology. Further, long term records of change provide evidence of the ecosystems dynamics that may have occurred leading up to a threshold change and, thereby, can reveal early warning signals that may be lessons to prioritise intervention measures for future management.

Working group aims

The Aquatic Transitions working group will integrate regional records of change in aquatic systems to provide a global synthesis of the sensitivity of sites to critical stages of human impact, detailing the nature of changes that can provide insights for management of these aquatic ecosystems. The two principal objectives are:

1. to document the history of human impact on aquatic systems through the identification of the first point of human impact, and the inception and peak of the impact of the industrialised phase;

2. examine the nature of these transitions to identify the ecosystem dynamics that have resisted human pressures, as well as the changes leading up to the point where the system succumbed, and the degree to which new, stabilising forces have entrenched the system in a new regime.

The WG will collate published palaeolimnnological records and attribute observed changes to critical phases in human activity. We will focus on establishing critical points of impact, which may be time transgressive, with a view to creating a global database to identify timing and causes of change, at regional/continental and global scales.

Registration details

Registration for this workshop is free, though numbers are strictly limited (max. 50 participants).

There is an option to attend a Working Group Dinner (23rd April). Attendance will cost approximately £50.

There is limited funding available to support participants on a competitive basis (preference for support will be given to those from low income countries and early career researchers).

Please indicate whether you will attend subject to financial support when completing this expression of interest in the workshop (an additional application for support will need to be submitted – details to follow).