Prof. Tockner says freshwater ecosystems and their species also absorb and bury about 7% of the carbon humans add annually to the atmosphere.
"Although small in area, these freshwater aquatic systems can affect regional carbon balances," he says.
"Freshwater ecosystems will be the first victims of both climate change and rising demands on water supplies. And the pace of extinctions is quickening - especially in hot spot areas around the Mediterranean, in Central America, China and throughout Southeast Asia."
"Despite their pivotal ecological and economic importance, freshwater ecosystems have not been of primary concern in policy making," adds Prof. Tockner. "Only recently did the European Union take the initiative to improve this situation through the EC Biodiversity Strategy. And in the U.S., recent Supreme Court decisions have made wetlands and small streams more vulnerable to loss."
Prof. Tockner, with colleague Charles Vrsmarty of the City University of New York, will present research at one of 25 conference symposia and invite fellow scientists to help formulate clear government policy recommendations and future research priorities.
Other conference presentations will cover issues ranging from biology to economics and international law, with emphasis on the positive benefits of conservation.
Showcased topics include:
|Contact: Terry Collins|