River habitats, biodiversity and invasive species

Freshwater environments are disproportionately important for biodiversity.

What does that mean?  It sounds like something we should pay attention to, but why?

Biodiversity is important because if an environment is biodiverse it is strong and more resilient to threats.  If a natural system contains all the elements for it to function properly, ie. all the members of the natural food chain, then it is more likely to survive temporary or long-term changes, such as pollution and extreme weather events.

Healthy freshwater environments contain more species (both in terms of outright numbers – known as abundance – and in terms of

A healthy biodiversity provides a number of natural services for everyone:

  • Ecosystem services, such as
    • Protection of water resources
    • Soils formation and protection
    • Nutrient storage and recycling
    • Pollution breakdown and absorption
    • Contribution to climate stability
    • Maintenance of ecosystems
    • Recovery from unpredictable events
  • Biological resources, such as
    • Food
    • Medicinal resources and pharmaceutical drugs
    • Wood products
    • Ornamental plants
    • Breeding stocks, population reservoirs
    • Future resources
    • Diversity in genes, species and ecosystems
  • Social benefits, such as
    • Research, education and monitoring
    • Recreation and tourism
    • Cultural values