In our view, Jonathan Tonkin and colleagues’ modelling approach is just one of a raft of measures needed to manage freshwater ecosystems and mitigate conflicts between their use and conservation (see Nature 570, 301–303; 2019).
Alteration of river flow is one of several stressors exacerbated by climate change. Focusing on mechanistic understanding and modelling of hydrological stress might therefore be risky unless interactions with other stressors are considered.
River management should be guided not only by natural-history data, but also by biological- and environmental-monitoring data — both of which are woefully underused. Making such data available according to the FAIR principles for data accessibility could provide greater insight into cause–effect relationships in freshwater degradation and restoration.
Models for adaptive river management should consider future climate, human-population and land-use scenarios. These can incorporate multiple stressors so that researchers can consider their impacts on different scales, enabling comparison between regions and consideration of large-scale ecosystem management.
Nature 572, 32 (2019)