Southern Europe has been experiencing an accelerated intensification of agricultural systems in the last decades with consequent environmental effects. This study aimed to evaluate the effects of agricultural land use in two small-medium river basins in the South of Portugal, regarding: (i) water quality and stream habitat; (ii) fish fauna; and (iii) soil. Sampling included fish captures, water, and soil sample collection. Hydromorphological habitat features were also assessed. Land use was quantified at the basin and local scales. Results showed that the most negative effects were associated with intensive, heavily irrigated, fertilized, and pastured local systems, mostly represented at the basin scale by olive groves, irrigated crops, and pastures. Conversely, local agricultural intensity did not prove to be a threat to the integrity and quality of the soil, seeming to ensure the sustainability of the local uses and their systems. Negative effects were observed on water quality and instream habitat and degradation of riparian vegetation, resulting in fish assemblages’ impoverishment. This study contributes to a comprehensive approach to the effects of agricultural land use, highlighting the need to integrate the results of different natural resources to efficiently support policy and decision makers toward a sustainable agriculture, water management, and land use planning.
Part of the book: Land Use