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Impairing the largest and most productive forest on our planet: how do human activities impact phytoplankton?

Salmaso, Nico, Naselli-Flores, Luigi, Padisák, Judit
Hydrobiologia 2012 v.698 no.1 pp. 375-384
agricultural land, anthropogenic activities, aquatic environment, case studies, climate change, ecosystems, eutrophication, forests, humans, lakes, land use, mountains, phytoplankton, ponds, rivers, taxonomy, Mediterranean region
This article summarizes the outcomes of the 16th Workshop of the International Association for Phytoplankton Taxonomy and Ecology. Four major issues dealing with the impact exerted by human activities on phytoplankton were addressed in the articles of this special volume: climate change and its impacts on phytoplankton, the role of land use in shaping composition and diversity of phytoplankton, the importance of autecological studies to fully understand how phytoplankton is impacted by stressors and the role of ecological classification to evaluate community changes due to the different impacts. Case studies from different types of aquatic environments (rivers, deep and shallow lakes, reservoirs, mountain lakes, and temporary ponds) and from diverse geographical locations (not only from the Mediterranean and temperate regions, but also from subtropical and tropical ones) have shown that a complex spectrum of human impacts, not exclusively linked to eutrophication, severely conditions structure and dynamics of phytoplankton assemblage both in the short and long terms. Moreover, the trade-offs between climate change and other human-induced stresses as eutrophication, agricultural and urban land use or water overexploitation contribute to make more severe the impact exerted by humans on phytoplankton and, in turn, on the functioning of aquatic ecosystems.