This report forms part of a larger research programme on 'Reinterpreting the Urban-Rural Continuum', which conceptualises and investigates current knowledge and research gaps concerning 'the role that ecosystems services play in the livelihoods of the poor in regions undergoing rapid change'. The report aims to conduct a baseline appraisal of water-dependant ecosystem services, the roles they play within desakota livelihood systems and their potential sensitivity to climate change. The appraisal is conducted at three spatial scales: global, regional (four consortia areas), and meso scale (case studies within the four regions). At all three scales of analysis water resources form the interweaving theme because water provides a vital provisioning service for people, supports all other ecosystem processes and because water resources are forecast to be severely affected under climate change scenarios. This report, combined with an Endnote library of over 1100 scientific papers, provides an annotated bibliography of water-dependant ecosystem services, the roles they play within desakota livelihood systems and their potential sensitivity to climate change.
After an introductory, section, Section 2 of the report defines water-related ecosystem services and how these are affected by human activities. Current knowledge and research gaps are then explored in relation to global scale climate and related hydrological changes (e.g. floods, droughts, flow regimes) (section 3). The report then discusses the impacts of climate changes on the ESPA regions, emphasising potential responses of biomes to the combined effects of climate change and human activities (particularly land use and management), and how these effects coupled with water store and flow regime manipulation by humans may affect the functioning of catchments and their ecosystem services (section 4). Finally, at the meso-scale, case studies are presented from within the ESPA regions to illustrate the close coupling of human activities and catchment performance in the context of environmental change (section 5). At the end of each section, research needs are identified and justified. These research needs are then amalgamated in section 6.