Environmental policies fall short in protecting freshwater ecosystems, which are heavily threatened by human pressures and their associated stressors. One reason is that stressor effects depend on the context in which they occur and it is difficult to extrapolate patterns to predict the effect of stressors without these being contextualized in a general frame. This study aims at improving existing decision-making frameworks such as the DPSIR approach (Driver-Pressure-State-Impact-Response) or ERA (Environmental Risk Assessment) in the context of stressors. Here, we delve into stressor-impact relationships in freshwater ecosystems and develop a guideline which includes key characteristics such as stressor type, stressor duration, location, the natural levels of environmental variables to which each ecosystem is used to, among others. This guideline is intended to be useful in a wide range of ecosystem conditions and stressors. Incorporating these guidelines may favor the comparability of scientific results and may lead to a substantial advancement in the efficacy of diagnosis and predictive approaches of impacts.
- Environmental degradation
- Environmental impact assessment
- Multiple stressors
- River ecology