Request > Monitoring freshwater ecosystems

How can we help countries to effectively monitor their freshwater ecosystem resources?

Requester: IHE Delft Institute for Water Education.

Type of request: Knowledge Synthesis

This request aims to explore the harmonization of European Biological sampling methods for surface waters. This request is at a very early stage of the scoping phase and more discussion needs to happen with the requester and with key policy relevant people in order to refine the scope of the request.

Reference: Request CfR.5/2020/3

Contact points

KCB Focal Point: Flore Jeanmart
EMB Contact Point: Marie Vandewalle

Extract from the request application form

The ecosystem services provided by healthy and diverse freshwater invertebrate communities include clean water, cycling of nutrients and carbon, benefits for recreational activities, subsistence fisheries, and crop pollination, among others. Harmonized biomonitoring is needed to assess anthropogenic impacts on this organism group efficiently, predict changes in biodiversity across ecoregions, and design effective management measures to protect and restore this biodiversity. We are convinced that such an endeavour is most effectively done with a global perspective and enmeshed into the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s larger work. The ecosystem services provided by freshwater invertebrates benefit all societal sectors either directly or indirectly. The composition of our IUCN task force will facilitate reaching out to all these sectors. It includes 30 members from academia, museums, NGOs, private consultancies and governmental agencies. Since our initiative and the composition of our Task Force are global, it will also explicitly foster the exchange of knowledge and resources between the developed and developing societies, including indigenous peoples. The latter are often more intimately connected with their natural environment than industrialized societies. At the same time, indigenous peoples often have unique perspectives on the biodiversity of their land and its management, which we want to include in our standardization process. We are convinced that the size and composition of the Task Force are optimal to address the goals outlined above efficiently and to reach out across the globe.


Date request received: April/2020

Freshwater ecosystems are best assessed using aquatic invertebrates, as they are the most biologically and functionally diverse group of organisms in aquatic ecosystems. Our IUCN Task Force on Harmonizing Global Macroinvertebrate Sampling Protocols aims to coordinate the standardization of sampling protocols globally. This activity will improve on already existing protocols, and support countries that do not yet have protocols, particularly in the developing world. We request financial support for the first milestone workshop of our IUCN Task Force on Harmonizing Global Macroinvertebrate Sampling Protocols. Freshwater invertebrates are an extremely species-rich organism group. They perform crucial ecosystem functions, which are supporting many ecosystem services that are paramount for the wellbeing of human societies worldwide. Yet, in many countries, invertebrates are rarely monitored, standardized monitoring protocols are rare, and data are lacking on the abundance of species and their changes in space and time. The situation is especially acute in freshwater systems in the tropics and hampers adequate protection and management of these biodiversity hotspots.

In addition to the local, national and regional benefits that the Task Force will provide, a concerted effort towards standardization of sampling protocols will also form the basis for detection and comparison of trends in invertebrate biodiversity on large spatial scales. This second achievement is crucial to extend knowledge of biodiversity trends from vertebrates (e.g. covered in the WWF Living Planet Index) to invertebrates. Our initiative will thus contribute significantly to slowing freshwater biodiversity loss.

Scoping phase