Management and Ecosystem Services

In this final section we present five specific case studies that illustrate, in detail, the interactions between threats and the impact on ecosystem services. We also provide examples of how some benthic ecosystem services themselves have been used to enhance management and contribute to the maintenance of the health of the freshwater ecosystems. The case studies differ in geographical location, type of freshwater system, and nature of the services and threats. The first case study highlights the Rhine and Meuse, major European rivers that have been subject to centuries of human interference leading to hydrological modifications and pollution and clear conflicts between the various ecosystem services they offer. Efforts at restoration management are reversing some of the more dramatic ecological changes. The second case study describes the Pantanal region, a huge natural wetland complex in South America that undergoes massive seasonal changes. Unlike the Rhine and Meuse rivers example, it is in a relatively undeveloped area. It offers a wide range of services to the native population and is a habitat to considerable biodiversity, yet the Pantanal is increasingly threatened from growing agriculture and mining. Lake Mendota, the third case study, provides a recreational service that was threatened by eutrophication. Here, management based on the ecological concept of the trophic cascade has been applied with some success. Like the Pantanal, the Everglades (the fourth case study) is a large wetland that provides a range of ecosystem services. Agricultural pollutants, including heavy metals, have compromised these services, illustrating the disservice phenomenon across terrestrial-aquatic boundaries. The final case study of the Catskill Mountains watershed shows the scale of watershed management that is needed to sustain water quality and provide potable water for New York City. This example illustrates how landscape management can obviate the need to replace natural ecosystem services with artificial technological processes, thus providing significant economic and ecological value.

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