Natural wetlands emerge as the best sites to preserve the diversity of aquatic and riparian vegetation; however, especially in the lowlands, pristine wetlands and aquatic ecosystems have almost completely disappeared through land reclamation and agricultural development. Actions are needed, therefore, to maintain and recreate a wide network of wetlands able to preserve adequate levels of vegetation diversity. Focusing on a complex wetland system located in an overexploited plain, the article entitled ‘The importance of being natural in a human-altered riverscape: Role of wetland type in supporting habitat heterogeneity and the functional diversity of vegetation’, published in 2016 in Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems (AQC) explored the role of wetland origin and hydrology as the main drivers of physical and vegetation functional diversity, following a hierarchical sampling approach. The main results reinforced the key contribution of natural sites in maintaining vegetation diversity in heavily impaired riverine contexts, suggesting a direct effect of the interannual and seasonal dynamics of water-level variations in the observed vegetation patterns. The article offered an important contribution to our knowledge of vegetation patterns in wetlands, partly attributed to the innovative functional, hierarchical approach applied which is able to guarantee reliable data on the distribution patterns of physical heterogeneity and wetland vegetation. The findings of the article have been applied and adopted in a series of technical handbooks designed, inter alia, to support the monitoring programmes of habitats of community interest or vegetation of relevance for aquatic biodiversity conservation. In addition, this article has helped to raise awareness of the essential roles played by wetlands in agricultural landscapes and has emphasized the need for a better synergy between the European Habitats Directive and the Water Framework Directive. Several ecological recovery projects have been funded in line with the results described in the AQC article.
Linking vegetation patterns, wetlands conservation, and ecosystem services provision: From publication to application / Bolpagni, R.. - In: AQUATIC CONSERVATION-MARINE AND FRESHWATER ECOSYSTEMS. - ISSN 1052-7613. - 30:9(2020), pp. 1734-1740. [10.1002/aqc.3358]
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