More than half of the global river network is composed of intermittent rivers and ephemeral streams (IRES), which are expanding in response to climate change and increasing water demands. After years of obscurity, the science of IRES has bloomed recently and it is being recognised that IRES support a unique and high biodiversity, provide essential ecosystem services and are functionally part of river networks and groundwater systems. However, they still lack protective and adequate management, thereby jeopardizing water resources at the global scale. This Action brings together hydrologists, biogeochemists, ecologists, modellers, environmental economists, social researchers and stakeholders from 14 different countries to develop a research network for synthesising the fragmented, recent knowledge on IRES, improving our understanding of IRES and translating this into a science-based, sustainable management of river networks. Deliverables will be provided through i) research workshops synthesising and addressing key challenges in IRES science, supporting research exchange and educating young researchers, and ii) researcher-stakeholder workshops translating improved knowledge into tangible tools and guidelines for protecting IRES and raising awareness of their importance and value in societal and decision-maker spheres. This Action is organized within six Working Groups to address: (i) the occurrence, distribution and hydrological trends of IRES; (ii) the effects of flow alterations on IRES functions and services; (iii) the interaction of aquatic and terrestrial biogeochemical processes at catchment scale; (iv) the biomonitoring of the ecological status of IRES; (v) synergies in IRES research at the European scale, data assemblage and sharing; (vi) IRES management and advocacy training.
Research Ideas and Outcomes, n° 3, 2017