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Global Interest Groups: Freshwater Salinization
Chair
Patricia Gillis
Co-Chair
Ben J. Kefford

Welcome

The primary purpose of SETAC Interest Groups (IGs) is to provide a venue for scientists with an interest in a particular scientific topic to share knowledge and expertise and advance the topic. Participation in all IGs is open to all interested parties. If you are not already a member of this IG and would like to be, make sure you are signed in to your SETAC account then click "Join Group” near the top of this page.

Mission and Scope

The aim of this IG is to bring together managers, policy-makers, researchers and stakeholders around the world interested in the issue of salinization of freshwater and consequences to ecological and human health. The scope of this IG includes research related to assessing the impact on aquatic biota and ecosystem functioning, providing management tools and best practices, and evaluating the consequences of such impacts for human welfare.

The specific objectives of the network are to:
1) Identify the main causes of freshwater salinization around the world and quantify their impact on aquatic ecosystems.
2) Assess the toxicity of the different ions related to freshwater salinization on freshwater biota.
3) Assess the impact of freshwater salinization on different ecosystem functions (e.g. nutrient cycling) and trophic interactions (e.g. by reducing predation efficiency), and explore the existence of threshold levels causing the disruption of ecosystem functioning.
4) Investigate the interaction of freshwater salinization with others stressors (e.g. drought, eutrophication, metal toxicity, pesticides).
5) Develop new techniques and methods for the analysis of freshwater salinization.
6) Develop biotic indices for the monitoring of freshwater salinization.
7) Promote best practices for the management and restoration of salinized freshwater ecosystems.
8) Facilitate the transference of scientific knowledge to all the sectors of society.

Operations

Please contact the chairs of the IG if you would like to be involved.

Background

Salinization is a global and growing threat that affects many rivers and lakes in the world. It can have many different causes (e.g. irrigation, land clearing, mining activity or the use of salts as deicing agents for roads) and it can be expected to increase in response to climate change and increase water withdrawals due to human consumption. Moreover, in the more arid regions of the world, like southern Europe, prolonged droughts are frequent and its frequency and severity is likely to be extended in a climate change scenario, leading to an increase in the salt concentration for freshwater ecosystems.

Freshwater organisms only tolerate certain ranges of water salinity. Therefore secondary salinization has an impact on aquatic organisms, which ultimately leads to a reduction in aquatic biodiversity and a disruption of the ecosystem processes, and compromises the goods and services that rivers and streams provide. Given its global scale, international collaboration is needed to investigate the impact of freshwater salinization on ecosystem functioning and human welfare and to look for management solutions.

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