Does it matter what lies beneath?
The disregarded role of groundwater bioindicators
Presenta: Tiziana Di Lorenzo
CNR Istituto per lo Studio degli Ecosistemi, Sesto Fiorentino (FI)
Groundwater, including over 70% of fresh waters on the Earth, plays a crucial role for the maintenance of most surface environments and has profound implications for human well-being and socio-economic development. Groundwater ecosystems are featured by a high and valuable biodiversity, consisting of rare and strictly endemic species. Groundwater taxa show specific adaptations to groundwater habitats. One of the most striking is the low metabolism that, nevertheless, may entail an inability to cope with groundwater environment modifications induced by anthropogenic disturbance and natural drastic event. Aside the obvious loss of valuable biodiversity, the damage to groundwater communities leads to the irreversible loss of ecosystem services such as the recycle of nutrients, the degradation of pollutants and the loss of the early-warning system.
The European Directives state the importance of protective measures for groundwater bodies, however the role of groundwater as an ecosystem has lagged behind its importance as a drinking water reservoir so that no specific measures have been yet addressed to protect groundwater fauna. The result of the current legislative myopia is that many European groundwater ecosystems, considered in a good status from a chemico-physical point of view, are actually at risk.
The results of recent studies concerning the role of groundwater bioindicators will be presented, with particular reference to the responses of groundwater communities to: 1) agricultural pollutants; 2) volatile organic compounds; 3) temperature increasing; 4) earthquakes.
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