Three major steps toward the conservation of freshwater and riparian biodiversity

Jacqueline H.T. Hoppenreijs*, Jeffery Marker, Ronald J. Maliao, Henry H. Hansen, Erika Juhász, Asko Lõhmus, Vassil Y. Altanov, Petra Horká, Annegret Larsen, Birgitta Malm-Renöfält, Kadri Runnel, John J. Piccolo, Anne E. Magurran

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Freshwater ecosystems and their bordering wetlands and riparian zones are vital for human society and biological diversity. Yet, they are among the most degraded ecosystems, where sharp declines in biodiversity are driven by human activities, such as hydropower development, agriculture, forestry, and fisheries. Because freshwater ecosystems are characterized by strongly reciprocal linkages with surrounding landscapes, human activities that encroach on or degrade riparian zones ultimately lead to declines in freshwater–riparian ecosystem functioning. We synthesized results of a symposium on freshwater, riparian, and wetland processes and interactions and analyzed some of the major problems associated with improving freshwater and riparian research and management. Three distinct barriers are the lack of involvement of local people in conservation research and management, absence of adequate measurement of biodiversity in freshwater and riparian ecosystems, and separate legislation and policy on riparian and freshwater management. Based on our findings, we argue that freshwater and riparian research and conservation efforts should be integrated more explicitly. Best practices for overcoming the 3 major barriers to improved conservation include more and sustainable use of traditional and other forms of local ecological knowledge, choosing appropriate metrics for ecological research and monitoring of restoration efforts, and mirroring the close links between riparian and freshwater ecosystems in legislation and policy. Integrating these 3 angles in conservation science and practice will provide substantial benefits in addressing the freshwater biodiversity crisis.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere14226
Number of pages9
JournalConservation Biology
Issue number3
Early online date19 Dec 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • agua dulce
  • biodiversidad
  • biodiversity
  • conocimiento ecológico tradicional
  • conservación
  • conservation
  • freshwater
  • humedales
  • policy
  • políticas
  • ribereño
  • riparian
  • traditional ecological knowledge
  • wetlands


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