Regulations are needed to protect freshwater ecosystems from salinization

Matthew S. Schuler, Miguel Cañedo-Argüelles, William D. Hintz, Brenda Dyack, Sebastian Birk, Rick A. Relyea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Citations (Scopus)


Anthropogenic activities such as mining, agriculture and industrial wastes have increased the rate of salinization of freshwater ecosystems around the world. Despite the known and probable consequences of freshwater salinization, few consequential regulatory standards and management procedures exist. Current regulations are generally inadequate because they are regionally inconsistent, lack legal consequences and have few ion-specific standards. The lack of ion-specific standards is problematic, because each anthropogenic source of freshwater salinization is associated with a distinct set of ions that can present unique social and economic costs. Additionally, the environmental and toxicological consequences of freshwater salinization are often dependent on the occurrence, concentration and ratios of specific ions. Therefore, to protect fresh waters from continued salinization, discrete, ion-specific management and regulatory strategies should be considered for each source of freshwater salinization, using data from standardized, ion-specific monitoring practices. To develop comprehensive monitoring, regulatory, and management guidelines, we recommend the use of co-adaptive, multi-stakeholder approaches that balance environmental, social, and economic costs and benefits associated with freshwater salinization. This article is part of the theme issue ‘Salt in freshwaters: causes, ecological consequences and future prospects’.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20180019
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1764
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jan 2019


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