Aquatic Transitions was a PAGES working group active from 2014 to 2018.
Human activities have impacted global aquatic systems greatly through the release of contaminants and the regulation and abstraction of surface and groundwater. These have, and continue to, impact critically on human wellbeing and productivity. Simultaneously, aquatic systems have responded to long and shorter term variations in temperature and effective precipitation. Many of these responses have been non-linear, with aquatic ecosystems responding both abruptly, and showing a certain level of resilience to forces until a threshold is breached.
Wetlands are a classic ecosystem used to demonstrate alternative stable states whereby feedbacks can act to resist pressures, but also act to entrench the system in a new state once pressures force a regime shift. Many of the changes witnessed, or modelled, by ecologists 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 contemporary and paleo ecology.
Aquatic Transitions synthesized paleoecological records of change in aquatic systems both regionally and globally to reveal the sensitivity of sites to critical stages of human impact, the internal dynamics of changes within rivers, lakes and wetlands, and the details of the nature of changes. Further, Aquatic Transitions sought to identify points of change, early warning systems and feedbacks that may provide insights for waterway management.