In collaboration with the TU Berlin and the University of Naples, two new approaches have been developed to identify groundwater-dependent ecosystems on a global scale. Both approaches combine freely available geodata with remote sensing data.
In the publication by El-Hokayem et al. (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2023.166397), potentially groundwater-dependent vegetation in the Mediterranean biome was mapped using the newly developed pGDV index. The index combines eleven thematic datasets on: 1) groundwater-vegetation interaction; 2) soil water storage capacity; 3) landscape moisture potential; 4) land use; and 5) hydraulic conductivity. The results show that 31% of the natural vegetation in the Mediterranean biome is likely to be groundwater dependent.
The work of Link et al. (https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/acea97) analyses the potential global occurrence of groundwater-dependent rivers, wetlands and vegetation and the associated threats to these ecosystems in an aggregated index. The highest potential for groundwater-dependent ecosystems was found in tropical and arid regions.
Both maps were validated against existing data and field vegetation surveys. The results are an important prerequisite for local mapping and protection of biodiversity hotspots.