Earth’s Imperiled Rivers and Streams

Robert N. George, Mark B. Lueders, Benjamin L. Ruddell, Ryan A. McManamay

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Earth’s rivers are at risk. Across the globe, rivers have been dammed, diverted, straightened, and polluted. Increasing human population, growing economic productivity, and climate change have caused a drastic increase in altered rivers during the Anthropocene. Rivers provide a host of societal benefits such as energy production, food production, irrigation, and transportation. As a result, many rivers are over-exploited and no longer flow freely from their headwaters to their ocean deltas. An estimated half of all river reaches across the world show some sign of flow alteration. Major hotspots for widespread river alteration occur in Asia, Africa, and North America. As water stress continues to put compounding pressure on countries, more rivers will lose their wild and intact nature. Freshwater ecosystems are now some of the most at-risk ecosystems in the world, with freshwater fish populations down by 83% globally. Only with sound policy, water management programs, and research can countries develop strategies to better manage human and ecosystem requirements for freshwater. The recent advancement of Big Data science techniques gives countries and regional water managers a new hope in finding the balance between humans and healthy rivers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationImperiled
Subtitle of host publicationThe Encyclopedia of Conservation: Volume 1-3
PublisherElsevier
Pages459-467
Number of pages9
Volume1-3
ISBN (Electronic)9780128211397
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022

Keywords

  • Anthropocene
  • Aquatic ecosystems
  • Dams
  • Free flowing rivers
  • Freshwater
  • Habitat degradation
  • Land use
  • River alteration
  • River management
  • Rivers
  • Streams
  • Water stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)

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