GLOBIO-Aquatic, a global model of human impact on the biodiversity of inland aquatic ecosystems

date: 2015-01-30


PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, NIOO-KNAW, Utrecht University and Wageningen University


Biodiversity in freshwater ecosystems – rivers, lakes and wetlands – is undergoing rapid global decline. Major drivers are land use change, eutrophication, hydrological disturbance, climate change, overexploitation and invasive species. We developed a global model for assessing the dominant human impacts on inland aquatic biodiversity. The system consists of a biodiversity model, named GLOBIO-Aquatic, that is embedded in the IMAGE model framework, i.e. linked to models for demography, economy, land use changes, climate change, nutrient emissions, a global hydrological model and a global map of water bodies. The biodiversity model is based on a recompilation of existing data, thereby scaling-up from local/regional case-studies to global trends. We compared species composition in impacted lakes, rivers and wetlands to that in comparable undisturbed systems.

We focussed on broad categories of human-induced pressures that are relevant at the global scale. The drivers currently included are catchment land use changes and nutrient loading affecting water quality, and hydrological disturbance and climate change affecting water quantity. The resulting relative mean abundance of original species is used as indicator for biodiver sity intactness. For lakes, we used dominance of harmful algal blooms as an additional indicator. The results show that there is a significant negative relation between biodiversity intactness and these stressors in all types of freshwater ecosystems. In heavily used catchments, standing water bodies would lose about 80% of their biodiversity intactness and running waters about 70%, while severe hydrological disturbance would result in losses


J.H. Janse, J.J. Kuiper, M.J. Weijters, E.P. Westerbeek, M.H.J.L. Jeuken, M. Bakkenes, R. Alkemade, W.M. Mooij, J.T.A. Verhoeven, 2015. GLOBIO-Aquatic, a global model of human impact on the biodiversity of inland aquatic ecosystems. environmental science & policy 48(2015) 99–114.