Worldwide, freshwater ecosystems are increasingly threatened by human-induced environmental impacts due to multiple land and water uses, with often severe adverse effects on freshwater ecosystem’s ecological status and biodiversity. Thereby, land use alone is known to impose a multifaceted cocktail of stressors on the freshwater environment, for example, eutrophication, toxication, sediment pollution, physical habitat degradation.
The aim of this study is to compare the ecological implications of land use among a series of different—lotic as well as lentic—freshwater ecosystems, with a focus on biodiversity. Therefore, we generated a comprehensive database of freshwater organisms of five different ecosystem types: rivers (fish, macroinvertebrates, macrophytes), lakes (fish, macroinvertebrates, zooplankton), floodplains (molluscs, carabid beetles, floodplain vegetation), ponds (amphibians, macrozoobenthos) and groundwaters (crustaceans). Up to six biodiversity metrics (richness, Simpson and Shannon index, Pielou’s evenness, taxonomic distinctness and endemicity/rareness) were generated using either the data on taxa occurrence, taxon presence/absence or abundance, if available, and were related to land use data derived from global and continental databases. In addition, variable sets of geographical (latitude, longitude, altitude) and climatic variables (actual evapotranspiration, mean annual air temperature and precipitation) were used for ecosystem-specific analysis in order to account for natural (geo-climatic) patterns in the spatial distribution of biodiversity.