Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2022-87
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2022-87
 
05 Apr 2022
05 Apr 2022
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Poor correlation between large-scale environmental flow violations and freshwater biodiversity: implications for water resource management and water planetary boundary

Chinchu Mohan1,2, Tom Gleeson2,3, James S. Famiglietti1,4, Vili Virkki5, Matti Kummu5, Miina Porkka5,6, Lan Wang-Erlandsson7,8, Xander Huggins1,2, Dieter Gerten9,10, and Sonja C. Jähnig10,11 Chinchu Mohan et al.
  • 1Global Institute for Water Security, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
  • 2Department of Civil Engineering, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
  • 3School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
  • 4School of Environment and Sustainability, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
  • 5Water and Development Research Group, Aalto University, Espoo, Finland
  • 6Global Economic Dynamics and the Biosphere, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 7Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 8Bolin Centre for Climate Research, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 9Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Member of the Leibniz Association, Potsdam, Germany
  • 10Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Geography Department and Integrative Research Institute on Transformations of Human–Environment Systems, Berlin, Germany
  • 11Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, Müggelseedamm 310, Berlin, Germany

Abstract. The freshwater ecosystems around the world are degrading, such that maintaining environmental flow (EF) in river networks is critical to their preservation. The relationship between streamflow alterations and, respectively, EF violations, and freshwater biodiversity is well established at the scale of stream reaches or small basins (~<100 km2). However, it is unclear if this relationship is robust at larger scales even though there are large-scale initiatives to legalize the EF requirement. Moreover, EFs have been used in assessing a planetary boundary for freshwater. Therefore, this study intends to carry out an exploratory evaluation of the relationship between EF violation and freshwater biodiversity at globally aggregated scales and for freshwater ecoregions. Four EF violation indices (severity, frequency, probability to shift to violated state, and probability to stay violated) and seven independent freshwater biodiversity indicators (calculated from observed biota data) were used for correlation analysis. No statistically significant negative relationship between EF violation and freshwater biodiversity was found at global or ecoregion scales. While our results thus suggest that streamflow and EF may not be an only determinant of freshwater biodiversity at large scales, they do not preclude the existence of relationships at smaller scales or with more holistic EF methods (e.g., including water temperature, water quality, intermittency, connectivity etc.) or with other biodiversity data or metrics.

Chinchu Mohan et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on hess-2022-87', Anonymous Referee #1, 18 May 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Chinchu Mohan, 24 Jun 2022
    • AC4: 'Reply on RC1', Chinchu Mohan, 24 Jun 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on hess-2022-87', Anonymous Referee #2, 23 May 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Chinchu Mohan, 24 Jun 2022
    • AC5: 'Reply on RC2', Chinchu Mohan, 24 Jun 2022
  • CC1: 'Comment on hess-2022-87', Davy Vanham, 31 May 2022
    • AC3: 'Reply on CC1', Chinchu Mohan, 24 Jun 2022
    • AC6: 'Reply on CC1', Chinchu Mohan, 24 Jun 2022

Chinchu Mohan et al.

Chinchu Mohan et al.

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Short summary
The relationship between environmental flow violations and freshwater biodiversity at a large scale is not well explored. This study intends to carry out an exploratory evaluation of this relationship at a large scale. While our results thus suggest that streamflow and EF may not be the only determinants of freshwater biodiversity at large scales, they do not preclude the existence of relationships at smaller scales or with more holistic EF methods or with other biodiversity data or metrics.