Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems

Science, Challenges, and Policy Directions

Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems (GDEs) are foci of this planet's biological diversity, living records of cultural heritage, centers of religious ritual and practice, strategic goals of economical aspirations, and have been both the objects and weapons of local and international conflict. They have inspired poetry and the arts, and embody verdant byways in the most inhospitable deserts of the world and of the human spirit. Increasing exploitation of groundwater resources has interrupted the quantity and altered hydrochemistry of these springs and wetlands, creating resource management challenges around the globe. Basic information on GDEs is elusive, as many are in remote locations, and have small areal extent concealed from the resolution of both remote sensing satellites and supportive political action. Varying laws, policies, and management practices throughout the world have directed a path forward for GDE sustainability, amid conflicting national ambitions, constrained economic and enforcement capabilities and lack of basic scientific data.

To learn more about the efforts being made to advance the knowledge and understanding of springs ecosystems, continue reading the recently published paper by David Kreamer, Lawrence Stevens, and Jeri Ledbetter.