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European Environment Agency’s Third Message for the International Year of Biodiversity Highlights Links with Climate Change

9 March 2010:The European Environment Agency has published the third biodiversity message in its series of ‘10 messages for 2010,' which focuses on freshwater ecosystems, and highlights links with climate change.

According to the third message, climate change represents a new and increasing threat to the biodiversity of Europe's freshwaters. It notes that human-induced climate change is altering freshwater habitats, allowing alien species to colonize such ecosystems and impacting their ecological status. Increased temperatures and carbon dioxide concentrations are expected to affect processes such as photosynthesis, respiration and decomposition, generally accelerating them. Climate-induced changes in ice cover periods, river discharge regimes, thermal stratification, nutrient availability and the duration of growing seasons affect species composition and food web structures.

The message further underlines that climate change could lead to the extinction of some aquatic species or at least could modify their distribution in a river system or move their distribution northwards. Enhanced harmful algal blooms in lakes resulting from climate change may counteract nutrient load reduction measures and also require a revision of classification systems for ecological status assessment. Public health may be threatened and the use of lakes for drinking water and recreation may be reduced. [Third Message]