Springs and headwaters worldwide are faced with severe environmental changes caused by Global Climate Change. These changes will be more drastic in alpine regions. Increased temperatures, changed hydrological conditions and glacier retreats are the most prominent effects predicted. Rising water temperatures and a changed discharge regime will have dramatic consequences for springs and their springbrooks. The changed ecological conditions will have impacts on the composition of species assemblages. It is, yet, still unknown what the consequences will be for species composition and ecosystem functioning. Overall, biodiversity loss and a homogenization of species assemblages are expected.
In protected areas springs are usually still pristine. They are important refuges for species which elsewhere are endangered. Protected areas can be seen as flagship areas within a widely managed, anthropogenically altered landscape. For venturing future predictions and proposing possible counteractions two prerequisites are needed: We need to know the status quo in springs and we need to conduct sophisticated long-term monitoring projects in order to understand future developments. Such a long-term monitoring will be done in the Swiss National Park in the upcoming years.