Modelling for ecological restauration

Titulo: Linking function and structure in floodplain wetlands as a tool to buffer global change impacts in large regulated rivers,
Universidad de Zaragoza, Instituto Pirenaico de Ecologia-CSIC, 2008-2011,
Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia. CGL2008-05153-C02-02,

Floodplains of large regulated rivers with impacts of global changes (“chanelization, eutrophication, intensive agricultural land use) are mostly controlled by groundwater flows and present uncoupled functional and structural characteristics. However, some habitats still keep functional characteristics of wetlands (solids retention, nutrient recycling, sink/source of greenhouse gases and biodiversity development.) under these conditions which are valuable for the management and restoration of these ecosystems. This project plans to assess the relationships between forcing functions (water flow, dissolved solids transport,organic matter type and abundance, water quality), functions (organic matter acumulation, carbon and nitrogen recycling, gas emmission/trapping, system metabolism) and structure (type and relative abundance of plants and macroinvertebrates) in wetlands across the hydraulic connectivity gradient in the Middle Ebro River to identify which habitats and why are key “hot spots” for wetland characterístics. For this purpose, groundwater flow models coupled with surface flow models will be constructed (Subproject 1) and field and laboratory data of soild and water quality, dissolved solid concentrations, gas emission – CO2/CH4, N2O – , production/respiratoinmetabolism, and community structure (relative abundance of plants and macroinvertebrates) will be obtained from a network of piezometers and recorders (already available in the study area) extensively across an habitat gradient and intensively in selected wetland habitats. The results will be validated at habitat and floodplain scales using these data measured in situ and the water and solids flow models, taking advantage of the precedent experience of an international team of researchers.