Using machine learning to understand the environmental impacts of ecosystem processes in rivers / 29.03.2019

Top achievements of Slovenian scientists in prestigious publications – top publications (March 2019), "Metin scientific newsletter"

River ecosystems are directly exposed to point and diffuse pollution, the impacts of climate change and changes in land use. Human influences, together with natural factors, determine how different ecosystem processes will occur, from the decomposition of the substance, to the breathing and reproduction of organisms. In recent years, researchers have established the strong influence of the association of environmental stressors on ecosystem processes.

Nataša Mori, Tatjana Simčič, Barbara Debeljak and Anton Brancelj from the National Institute of Biology, Tjaša Kanduč from the Jožef Stefan Institute and Mateja Škerjanec from the Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geodesy of the University of Ljubljana are using machine learning to search for new information in a selected data set, investigate the links between environmental stressors and their impact on selected ecosystem processes.

The use of decision trees has enabled the identification of unconfirmed links between stressors and environmental factors and the determination of thresholds where there is a modified biological response. The results show that the relationship between stressors and environmental factors and biological responses depends primarily on the temperature at which they are observed.

The research was published in the international scientific journal Water Research and selected as one of the top publication of March 2019 within "Metin scientific newsletter".