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Global Interest Groups: Freshwater Salinization
David B. Buchwalter
Ben J. Kefford


SETAC Global Interest Group on the Ecological and Human Health Consequences of Salinization of Freshwater

2016 Freshwater Salinization Annual Report

2015 Freshwater Salinization Annual Report

2014 Freshwater Salinization Annual Report

Salinization Interest Group

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. The aim of this network is to bring together managers, policy-makers, researchers and stakeholders around the world. We aim assess the impact on aquatic biota and ecosystem functioning, provide management tools and best practices and evaluate 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.

Founding committee
Ben Kefford, University of Canberra, Australia (chair)
Miguel Cañedo-Argüelles, Barcelona University, Spain; Oregon State University, USA (co-chair)
David Buchwalter, NC State University, USA
Eckhard Coring, EcoRing, Germany
Anna Lucia Gonzalez Achem, Inst. de Biodiversidad Neotropical, Argentina
Cayetano Gutierrez Canovas, University of Murcia, Spain
Jim Lazorchak, US EPA, USA
Paul Mensah, Rhodes University, South Africa
Narcis Prat, University of Barcelona, Spain
Claus-Jürgen Schulz, Thüringer Landesanstalt für Umwelt & Geologie, Germany

Activites overview
Technical Workshop on Freshwater Salinization, 10 – 13 March 2014, BurgLudwigstein Castle, Germany. Please find the workshop summary.

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