Studies on shallow lakes from the north temperate zone show that they alternate between clear and turbid water states in response to control factors. However, the ecology of semi-arid to arid shallow Mediterranean lakes is less explored. Hydrological effects (e.g. water level fluctuations, water residence time) on major ions and nutrient dynamics and processes, and ecology of submerged macrophytes appear to have a crucial role for food webs in shallow Mediterranean lakes. Nutrient control may be of greater priority in eutrophicated warm shallow lakes than in similar lakes at higher latitudes. This will be relevant for the implementation of the European Water Framework Directive, and conservation and management of these ecosystems. Strong trophic cascading effects of fish resulting from dominance of omnivorous and benthivorous fish species, whose diversity is usually high, together with frequent spawning and absence of efficient piscivores, seem to be the reason for the lack of large-bodied grazers that could control phytoplankton. However, such effects may vary within the region depending on fish distribution and community. These factors need elaboration in order to allow shallow lake ecologists and managers to develop better restoration strategies for eutrophicated shallow Mediterranean lakes. Consequently, modifications for the implementation of the European Water Framework Directive for determining ecological status in shallow Mediterranean lakes appear to be necessary. Furthermore, the implications of climate warming may be even more challenging than in high latitude lakes since shallow lakes in the Mediterranean region are among the most sensitive to extreme climate changes. There is an urgent need for data on the ecology of shallow lakes in the region. An appeal is made for international cooperation, development of large-scale research and information exchange to facilitate this and a web-based discussion list has been implemented.