8.02.06 - Aquatic biodiversity in forests


David Roon, United States


Anne Timm, United States

About Unit

Forest-dependent biodiversity includes stream- and wetland-dwelling species that are highly associated with and adapted to forested ecosystems and their attributes wherever forests occur in the world. This biota can be affected, often adversely, not only by forest management practices but also by factors such as invasion of non-native species, or in the future, climate change.  For example, timber harvest, invasive species, or climate change (e.g., extended drought) may alter aquatic habitat conditions such as water temperature, water quantity, substrate composition, or down wood availability which singly or in concert can cascade across multiple organizational levels of aquatic organisms.  This Unit will explore a broad context of forest aquatic biodiversity, ranging from descriptions of the diversity of species dependent on particular forest types to quantification and prediction of shifts in biodiversity as a result of contemporary or future factors affecting the world's forests and the waters that drain them. Scientists from around the world will be solicited to participate relative to their ongoing research on aquatic biota in forested systems, describing the extent of diversity in forest aquatic systems, documenting linkages to forest attributes in the context of contemporary and future issues affecting forests, and sharing innovative approaches to their conservation.

State of Knowledge

The science and management of aquatic resources in forests has lagged behind that of the economically important upland vegetation. As ecosystem management approaches are now being applied to forests, broad categories of ecosystem services are being recognized for sustainable management, including aquatic biodiversity. The synchronous management of aquatic and terrestrial systems poses new challenges to both scientists and managers. Known and suspected threats to aquatic biota in forests include sedimentation, invasive species, disease, habitat degradation and fragmentation, and altered water flow, water temperature, and down wood recruitment. New concerns have arisen due to climate change projections, especially relative to the quantity and quality of water in forests.  Mitigation of threats includes riparian buffer zones, and alternative silvicultural practices to reduce runoff amount and timing. This Unit will address key topics facing aquatic biota in forests around the world.  Initial focus areas include rare or endangered aquatic biota in forests (e.g.,  amphibians), managing for both "fish and fiber" due to their dual economic and cultural foundations, invasive species, climate change, reciprocal subsidies between land and water, the socio-economics of riparian buffers, landscape connectivity perspectives, aquatic network theory, aquatic macroinvertebrate dynamics, freshwater crab management, sedimentation and aquatic biodiversity, aquatic biodiversity monitoring, and tropical rivers conservation.