Last Updated:

26/01/2022 - 16:08

The review article “Freshwater salinisation: a research agenda for a saltier world”, co-authored by METU member Prof. Dr. Meryem Beklioğlu and visiting researchers Prof. Erik Jeppesen & Dr. Cihelio A. Amorim, has been published in Trends in Ecology & Evolution.

The global acceleration of freshwater salinisation due to human activities such as agriculture, resource extraction, and urbanisation and its amplification by climate change is unequivocal. Although research in this field is growing, there are key aspects at the ecological and evolutionary levels that remain unaddressed.

Increasing salinisation is a problem as it can increase the stress or mortality of freshwater organisms, leading to a loss of diversity and/or functionality of freshwater ecosystems but also the services and benefits to human societies that they provide.

We identify the main gaps of recent research and suggest a research agenda to facilitate future research efforts in order to achieve a more comprehensive understanding on freshwater salinisation.

The widespread salinisation of freshwater ecosystems poses a major threat to the biodiversity, functioning, and services that they provide. Human activities promote freshwater salinisation through multiple drivers (e.g., agriculture, resource extraction, urbanisation) that are amplified by climate change. Due to its complexity, we are still far from fully understanding the ecological and evolutionary consequences of freshwater salinisation. Here, we assess current research gaps and present a research agenda to guide future studies. We identified different gaps in taxonomic groups, levels of biological organisation, and geographic regions. We suggest focusing on global- and landscape-scale processes, functional approaches, genetic and molecular levels, and eco-evolutionary dynamics as key future avenues to predict the consequences of freshwater salinisation for ecosystems and human societies.

Cunillera-Montcusí, D., Beklioğlu, M., Cañedo-Argüelles, M., Jeppesen, E., Ptacnik, R., Amorim, C. A., ... & Matias, M. (2022). Freshwater salinisation: a research agenda for a saltier world. Trends in Ecology & Evolution. doi:10.1016/j.tree.2021.12.005

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METU Authors

Prof. Meryem Beklioğlu

Web of Science/Publons Researcher ID: ABA-1630-2020 Scopus Author ID: 6603923669
About the author ORCID: 0000-0003-2145-3941

Prof. Erik Jeppesen

Web of Science/Publons Researcher ID: A-4463-2012
Scopus Author ID: 7005087752
About the author ORCID: 0000-0002-0542-369X

Dr. Cihelio A. Amorim

Web of Science/Publons Researcher ID: Q-5965-2017
Scopus Author ID: 57195436507
About the author ORCID: 0000-0002-7171-7450


global change; secondary salinisation; salt; freshwater salinisation syndrome

Other authors:

Cunillera-Montcusí, D., Cañedo-Argüelles, M., Ptacnik, R., Arnott, S. E., Berger, S. A., Brucet, S., Dugan, H. A., Gerhard, M., Horváth, Z., Langenheder, S., Nejstgaard, J. C., Reinikainen, M., Striebel, M, Urrutia-Cordero, P., Vad, C. F., Zadereev, E., & Matias, M.


We want to specially thank Anne Mette Poulsen for her valuable editions on the manuscript and to the two reviewers and the editör who helped to improve its quality. This manuscript was inspired by the discussion groups of the AQUACOSM-plus webinar series on Grand Challenges in Aquatic Ecology. This work is part of the AQUACOSM and AQUACOSM-plus projects that have received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement Nos 731065 and 871081. D.C.M., M.B., E.J., R.P., S.A.B., M.G., Z.H., S.L., J.C.N., M.R., and C.F.V. were supported by the H2020 EU-funded project AQUACOSM-plus (no. 871081). D.C.M., M.B., S.A.B., and J.C.N. were supported by the H2020 EU-funded Project AQUACOSM (no. 731065). M.B. and E.J. were supported by the TÜBITAK program BIDEB2232 (project 118C250). M.B. and S.B. were supported by the H2020 EU-funded project PONDERFUL (no. 869296). Z.H. and C.F.V. were supported by the NKFIH-471-3/2021 project. Z.H. was supported by the János Bolyai Research Scholarship of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. P.U-C. was supported by the Swedish Research Council Formas (grant: 2020-01825). M.M. was supported by the Grant RyC-2016-19348 funded by MCIN/AEI/10.13039/501100011033 and by ESF ‘Investing in your future’.