Snapshopts of the fish sampling activities, a side channel location along a Dutch floodplain and mass mortality of a mollusc community in a riverine habitat.
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Approaches to quantify the ecosystem services from riverine vegetation and aquatic habitats.
River systems are amongst the more dynamic landscapes due to their natural dynamics but also due to the many river interventions and land use changes. Management strategies can be more sustainable when considering the multiple river functions. This is the case of recent interventions in the Dutch rivers such as the side channels that aimed at improving flood safety while increasing the riverine vegetation and habitats for aquatic species. However, the effects of these inteventions on space and time over the ecosystem services are hardly assessed due to limited tools or available methods. Hence, this project focused on developing approaches to quantify the spatiotemporal availability of 3 types of ecosystem services: riverine vegetation for biomass production, sport fishing and water purification by mussels.
Key goals: Integrated management
Based on a literature review for suitable landscape classifications, we quantify the following floodplain ecosystem services along the distributaries of the Dutch Rhine river (see right Figure):
- At delta scale along the main tributaries of the Dutch Rhine, we looked at the growth of woody and non-woody riverine vegetation due to the river interventions and corresponding land use changes over a period of 15 years.
- Using data of multiple fish sampling in a location along the Waal river, we compared the presence of juvenile fish in various water bodies within natural environments such as (1) floodplain lakes, (2) water bodies created by traditional interventions such as groyne fields and (3) side channels as well as (4) shore channels next to novel interventions such as the longitudinal dams.
- Field monitoring of an impounded area along a groyne field in the Maas river as well as a 3D model of the groyne field that was derived from drone imagery proved useful to estimate the effect of a low water level event in the capacity of water purification by mussels.
- Using a database with monitoring data in an impounded and free flowing locations along the Dutch Rhine, we accounted for the presence of molluscs at the maximum flow velocities induced by shipping activities.
For whom and where?
Managers and advisors on ecology and water quality at locations that need to estimate the ecosystem services due to river intereventions such the ones implemented in the Netherlands.
Data-collection methods: Field survey measurements Historical approach Process-based modeling Systematic review
Temporal scale: 1-10years Seasonal measurements
Application development & findings
The available landscape ecological maps from the Dutch Ministry of infrastructure were the basis to quantify the changes in the riverine vegetation from 1997 to 2012. Most of the riverine vegetation over the main tributaries of the Dutch Rhine is non-woody (i.e. grass/hay, reed and agricultural crops). However, while the non-woody vegetation decreased, the non-woody vegetation remained relatively constant. As a result, the overall vegetation for biomass production decreased while flood safety increased visualizing a potential trade-off.
Moreover, in December 2016, the damaging of a weir near a groyne location along the Meuse river caused a water level decrease that left the groynes dry for 12 days during harsh winter conditions. The event resulted in 100% mortality on the air-exposed groynes and a complete loss of their water purification services. In addition, flow velocity measurements in three habitat types showed that the highest impact on mollusc communities occurred in groyne fields of impounded and free-flowing rivers while cargo ships produced the highest flow velocities.
Finally, the fish sampling at the monitored locations showed that floodplain lakes and the shore channel behind the longitudinal dams contributed considerably to the presence of juvenile fish. Therefore, new interventions such as the longitudinal dams allowed shipping in the main channel while protecting aquatic habitats in the shore channel against shipping effects.
Status for day-to-day practice
The quantification of the ecosystem services at the example locations can inspire other locations to design river interventions towards certain target thresholds or ecosystem services trade-offs.
Areas studied covered a delta scale along the three main tributaries along the Dutch Rhine (Waal, IJssel and Lek-Nederrijn) and field monitoring locations along the Waal and Maas river.
Spatial scale: River section
Key locations: IJssel River (NL) Maas River (NL) Nederrijn-Lek River (NL) Rhine River (NL) Waal River (NL)
Cost-benefit analysis of the river ecosystem services could provide a next step to define thresholds or targets for specific habitats during the design of river interventions. However, the inter-relations between ecosystem services and its societal value should be also taken into account.
Last modified: 19/06/2019
Explore the contact details to get to know more about the researchers, the supervisory team and the organizations that contribute to this project.
Radboud University Nijmegen
As soon as available, explore the storyline to get to know more about the main methods or prototype tools that were developed within this project.
Biomass growth of floodplain vegetation along the Dutch Rhine
Changes in the biomass growth between 1997 and 2012 to plan vegetation management strategies.
Radboud University Nijmegen
Explore the output details for available publications to get a glance of the innovative components and implications to practice as well as the links to supporting datasets.
Predicting effects of ship-induced changes in flow velocity on native and alien molluscs in the littoral zone of lowland rivers
Quantifying biomass production for assessing ecosystem services of riverine landscapes
Take a look to the dissemination efforts and application experiences which are available in the news items and blogs.
Dutch serie “Vroege Vogels” (Early birds) about nature and ecology in the Netherlands
07/11/2017 by Remon Koopman
During the 2017 summer and autumn a fish monitoring campaign was performed by RiverCare and experts from Bureau Waardenburg.
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