Sessões Especiais

SE1. The use of molecular tools in ecological and biodiversity assessment of aquatic ecosystems

Ana Filipa Filipe, Salomé Almeida and Maria João Feio

The conservation and sustainable management of aquatic ecosystems is a priority in environmental programs worldwide. These aims are however highly dependent on the efficiency, accuracy and cost of existent methods for the detection of species and monitoring of biological communities. The ongoing fast advances in eDNA, barcoding and metabarcoding promoted by high-throughput sequencing technologies are generating millions of sequences in a relatively fast and inexpensive way, and overcoming some of the difficulties with traditional taxonomic approaches used in bioassessment. Presently, new indices based on molecular methods are being proposed, as well as tools to detect rare species, either threatened or introduced. Moreover, DNA barcoding is being also used to unveil eco-evolutionary patterns at multiple scales. The aim of this session is to provide an updated and broad perspective of the current developments in this fast-developing field, across the Iberian Peninsula and elsewhere, and promote the knowledge interchange and discussion about future research directions.

SE2. Microplastics in aquatic environments

Lúcia Guilhermino, Nelson Abrantes and Ana Marta Gonçalves

Sub-session I – Analytical procedures, monitoring and mitigation strategies

Sub-session II – Effects of microplastics individually or in combination with other environmental contaminants

Microplastic (plastic pieces smaller than 5 mm) contamination is an increasing environmental threat to aquatic systems because of their ubiquity, high persistence and insufficient management. Research in this area has been focused on marine environments, however, freshwater systems play a crucial role as carriers and sinks of microplastics and it is important to understand the overall fate of microplastics and the interconnectivity of all aquatic systems. The factors influencing the fate, behaviour and effects of particles are complex and can rely on a combination of environmental and biological interactions. For these reasons the Session is divided in two sequential Sub-Sessions. The Sub-section I aims to focus on analytical methods to detect, identify and quantify microplastics in different environmental media including sediments, water and biological tissue, assess the fate and behaviour of microplastics, discuss the current monitoring programmes in aquatic systems and the potential mitigations strategies. The Sub- session II aims at discussing new findings on the effects of microplastics alone or in combination with other environmental stressors in aquatic organisms, populations and ecosystems. Moreover, advances in new diagnostic tools in abiotic compartments and biological samples are also welcome, as well as models and results contributing to filling the gaps regarding the fate and behaviour effects of these substances on aquatic ecosystems.

SE3. Understanding carbon cycling in inland waters: from microbial function to ecosystem processes

Biel Obrador, Núria Catalán, Rafael Marcé and Lluís Gómez-Gener

The current understanding of the global carbon cycle recognizes inland waters as active ecosystems transporting and processing large amounts of carbon along the land to ocean continuum. Although there is an urgent need to quantify their role in regional and global carbon budgets, we still lack a mechanistic understanding of the processes driving the variability of both organic and inorganic carbon fluxes at different spatiotemporal scales. In this session, we encourage contributions that place observations on the links between ecological mechanisms and fluxes to improve the up-scaling of processes such as net atmospheric gas exchange in river networks or carbon burial and mineralization in lake and reservoir sediments. Contributions on topics like microbial carbon metabolism, carbon budgets, anaerobic processes, inorganic carbon dynamics, and hydrological effects on carbon processing are welcome; particularly those occurring on poorly studied ecosystems or those at the aquatic-terrestrial interfaces.

SE5. Understanding the consequences of urban pollution on freshwater ecosystems

Olatz Pereda

Human population and per capita use of resources have increased dramatically during the last decades. That way, urbanization and human activities have increased exponentially, subjecting all the ecosystems of the world to more and more pressure sources. Freshwater systems are amongst the most affected, as they receive all the changes occurring in their drainage area. Streams and rivers near urban areas are subjected to changes in channel morphology or hydrology, as well as to changes in water quality, as they can receive urban and industrial wastewaters. Urban effluents increase the concentration of nutrients and pollutants (e.g. pharmaceuticals) in water, which can result in important changes both in ecosystem structure (e.g. changes in biofilm, invertebrate and vertebrate communities) and functioning (e.g. changes in organic matter retention and decomposition, nutrient dynamics, whole-stream metabolism and gas fluxes). This session proposes a forum for researchers to present works related with impacts of urban pollution on freshwater ecosystems. We encourage contributions from all research areas, with both field or laboratory works, which could help researches involved in this topic to obtain a larger perspective on the functioning of urban streams.

SE6. Bringing interdisciplinary actions for river and riverine management

Francisca C. Aguiar and Maria Rosário Fernandes

Sustainable management of river ecosystems is grounded on the interplay of numerous areas of knowledge. Studies that rely on fluvial communities (e.g. fish, macrophytes, invertebrates, reptiles), and on the direct or indirect effects of environment, human pressures, and global change are extremely important for the knowledge and conservation of these ecosystems.


However, scientific engagement of different processes and disciplines and model developments relating the social and ecological contexts across spatial and temporal scales are still lacking. We challenge the scientific community attending the conference to present research addressing the multiple connections between (for instance) the river environment, the society and biological communities, or showing the relevance of historical cartography for river management or restoration. Applications of novel concepts, such as ‘social connectivity’ and their relevance for river biota and riverine landscapes are also welcome.

SE7. Advances in freshwater community ecology

David Sánchez-Fernández, Cayetano Gutiérrez-Cánovas and Núria Bonada

In recent years community ecology has undergone a clear transformation, from a discipline largely focused on the influence of local environmental processes to a discipline encompassing much richer fields of study. These include the linkages between communities separated in space (metacommunity dynamics), the relative role of niche and neutral processes, the interplay between ecology and evolution, the effects on ecosystem functioning, or the influence of historical and regional processes in shaping biodiversity patterns at large spatial scales. From a more applied perspective, there is also a new tendency trying to improve the methods to detect, assess, and predict the impacts of multiple stressors (including climate change) on biological communities and to develop new approaches for biodiversity conservation. Although most of these theoretical and applied advances in community ecology have been developed in terrestrial ecosystems, a number of freshwater ecologists are already working on these topics, integrating taxonomy, phylogeny, niche theory, functional traits, species interactions, local environmental conditions and pressures as potential determinants of biological communities. The final aim of this session is to provide a broad appreciation of current advances in community ecology in freshwaters. Thus, particular emphasis will be placed on works focusing on observational and experimental supporting (or not) the principal community ecology theories and their application

SE8. Ecology and management of temporary freshwater systems

Luciana Gomes Barbosa, Thibault Datry and Daniel von Schiller

A large proportion of the World’s freshwaters are experiencing drying events, and the extent of these events is increasing because of global change. Intensified research over the past decades has shed new light on the ecology of these ecosystems that have been overlooked by freshwater scientists for too long. Temporary freshwaters (TF), including streams, rivers, lakes, ponds, reservoirs and wetlands, contribute substantially to biodiversity and biogeochemical processing and provide important ecosystem services to human societies. Following the growing interest from the academic sphere, TF are receiving increased attention from water resource managers. Organized by the International Network on Limnology of Drylands (INLD) and the COST Action Science and Management of Intermittent Rivers and Ephemeral Streams (SMIRES), this special session will bring together ecologists to present their latest research on the ecology of TF in the context of global change and to address potential challenges in managing these prevalent ecosystems.

SE9. Hydrology, water resources and ecology of mountain headwaters

Sophie Cauvy-Fraunié and Georg H. Niedrist

Mountain watersheds are often referred as water towers of the surrounding low lands, thereby considered as unlimited water reservoirs. During cold seasons, solid precipitation accumulates in mountain regions where water is then stored as snow and ice, ensuring the availability of generally high quality water during summer when supply is dropping and demand is highest in lowland areas. However, mountain regions are facing unique challenges through the interaction of both natural and anthropogenic stressors, resulting from climate- and land-use change, which will affect downstream waters quantity and quality, with drastic consequences on freshwater ecosystems. This session will examine changes in hydrology and ecology of mountain freshwater ecosystems in relation to ongoing and predicted environmental changes in different regions worldwide and will provide monitoring-, mitigation- and adaptation plans for water management in the future. Presentations will cover the disciplines hydrology and ecology and will focus on novel applied and basic research by eminent young and senior freshwater scientists. The session will bring together experts from originally separated disciplines to assess the extent of flow alterations in those high altitude hydrosystems and their respective impacts on aquatic ecosystems, and propose monitoring and management tools, necessary to mitigate changes in quantity and quality of water supply from mountain regions.

SE10. Ecohydraulics in the global context of river flow alterations and impacts for freshwater fish

Isabel Boavida and Maria João Costa 

As an intrinsic characteristic of freshwater ecosystems, flow regime is determinant for the ecological function and natural dynamics of river systems. However, due to the increasing demand for water resources for human consumption, hydropower production or agriculture, there has been a continuous disruption of natural flow regimes with drastic changes for the river physical character. Presently facing the Anthropocene era, pristine rivers are rare and continuously replaced by unnatural and fragmented rivers. These face severe changes in their hydro-morphological processes, resulting in uncharacterized and homogeneous river habitats which end up affecting diel fish activities and critical life-stage events, likely to amplify to populations, communities and the river ecosystem. Although there is a considerable amount of research describing the effects of artificial flows in freshwater fish affected by river regulation and hydropower production, it is essential to determine the links between the physical processes that occur in these highly unstable environments and the responses of downstream fish biota. For this special session, it is our intention to invite a distinct group of scientists that dedicate their research to bridging the physical changes of these highly fluctuating environments with freshwater fish responses. Thus, we would like to invite you to participate in this special session on Ecohydraulics.

SE11. Homenaje a la Dra. Julia Toja: Conservación y gestión de embalses y otros ambientes acuáticos

Lourdes Encina Encina and Alberto Rodrigues Capítulo

En esta Sesión se abordarán algunos aspectos acerca del estado actual y perspectivas de la gestión y conservación de los embalses y ecosistemas naturales de la Península Ibérica, por parte de especialistas tanto académico-científicos, como del ámbito empresarial, que de una u otra forma están o estuvieron vinculados al eje de trabajo de la Dra. Julia Toja. La conservación de los recursos acuáticos en general y la sustentabilidad de los embalses en particular, han sido temas que han merecido desde siempre la atención de diferentes investigadores, profesionales y autoridades en la Península Ibérica para encontrar soluciones integrales a diferentes problemáticas relacionadas con el agua, dada la escases cada vez más pronunciada de este recurso. Estos temas serán tratados a modo de síntesis en este espacio donde también se incorporan los aspectos relevantes de la producción ictícola en embalses ibéricos y sus perspectivas, así como los estudios realizados en la cuenca del Guadalquivir. Por otra parte la intensa actividad académico- científica que la Dra. Toja realizó a partir de conferencias y cursos en varias Universidades e Institutos en sus múltiples viajes a Sudamérica y en particular a la Argentina, merecen un comentario especial por las enseñanzas y recuerdos allí dejados.

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