GiglachseewegBosmina-Alpenseen-ILIMViehbewirtschaftungAlpensee-Giglach-small-SWBeprobung-Twenger Almsee1

Due to their pristine nature remote alpine lakes are considered most valuable. Up to date the ecosystem services (ES) of alpine lakes are poorly characterized. The central aim of this 3 years project (from 1st July 2019 – 30th of June 2022) is to find out how ongoing climate change affects the function of alpine lakes and in consequence the provision of ES requiring new management advices taking climate change into account. This topic is of relevance with regard to the general understanding that in consequence to global warming those alpine lakes might experience more intense use within the near + distant future. The study design takes advantage from long-term limnological monitoring of alpine lakes located in the Northern Alps as well as in the Southern Alps.

In a first step the variability of the response of these alpine lakes to global warming within the last two decades will be explored on a quantitative scale. Lake surface temperature (LST) reconstructions covering the previous decades will be validated by in situ temperature records from two decades earlier and also recorded during this project. Plankton and fish community will be analysed using modern metabarcoding techniques based on deep-amplicon sequencing. The observation period further will include data on limnological indicator organisms from sediment cores such as diatoms, chrysophytes and chironomids which have been analysed two decades ago and will now be reanalyzed for the same alpine lakes showing high variability in summer epilimnion temperature.

In a second step the ES will be quantitatively assessed for lake-types defined in relation to the UN sustainability developmental goals, such as accessibility, intensity of use or sensitivity to climate change. Provisioning and regulating ES (water provision/regulation) will be quantified using census data, data from limnological measurements as well as complex modelling approaches, whereas cultural ES (i.e. aesthetic value) will be based on crowd-sourced information such as geotagged photographs suitable to assess human preferences or by specific surveys based on questionnaires.  Socio-economic data (e.g. livestock feeding, fishing, tourism) will be collected. Validated LST models will allow for assessment of alpine lakes’ resistance towards disturbances which will affect the ability to maintain ES under potential impacts of climate change such as the IPCC “business as usual” scenario and the UN climate conference COP21 goal.

In a third step the ES provided by those lakes will be evaluated using multi criteria decision analysis (MCDA) comparing representative lakes of defined lake-types in both model regions. This will include (i) defining the most important ES through an experts' round table, (ii) a pair-wise questionnaire for ecosystem services weighing to be compiled by local stakeholders from various interest groups, (iii) Attribution of ES indicators and (iv) Performance of MCDA. The ES management under a scenario of climate change as described above will be addressed through comparative ES evaluation for the near and more distant future. Finally policy recommendations to facilitate future ES management in order to guarantee sustainable ES provision will be elaborated and presented.

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