Skip to main content

DURESS project

The DURESS project - Diversity of Upland Rivers for Ecosystem Service Sustainability – is part of a major Research Council initiative to assess the role of biodiversity in delivering key ecosystem services on which society relies.

This project is funded by a £3 million grant from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). It was launched in May 2012 and is led by Cardiff University. The project aims to understand how river biodiversity sustains key ecosystem services in a changing world.

DURESS investigates how organisms and ecosystem functions maintain important river ecosystem services such as the regulation of water quality, the provision of fish for anglers, or river birds as culturally valued biodiversity.

This is crucial knowledge because these services are at risk from climate and land-use change, and are potentially sensitive to disturbance at different thresholds and at different time-scales. The societal and economic implications of these effects are large, for example for recreational fisheries, water treatment and river biodiversity.

We expect impact from DURESS research to stem from:

  • better understanding of the mechanisms that link biodiversity and river ecosystem services
  • novel tools to assess biodiversity and biodiversity-mediated ecosystem processes and services
  • evidence to guide river ecosystem management and tools to implement an ecosystem approach
  • training the next generation of interdisciplinary researchers to tackle key societal challenges.


The DURESS team brings together 32 researchers from the physical, biogeochemical, ecological and socio-economic sciences. Team members from Cardiff University are:

Stakeholder partners

To maximise impact the project relies on close collaboration with seven key stakeholders who represent the water industry, the leisure industry, policy makers, land owners and land managers:

Academic partners