Science Inventory

Challenges, developments and perspectives in intermittent river ecology


Datry, T., K. Fritz, AND C. Leigh. Challenges, developments and perspectives in intermittent river ecology. FRESHWATER BIOLOGY. Blackwell Publishing, Malden, MA, 61(8):1171-1180, (2016).


Half the global river networks comprises channels that periodically cease flow and dry, hereafter intermittent rivers (IRs), and the number of perennial rivers becoming intermittent due to human activities is growing. However, river ecology has largely developed from and for perennial systems. This state of affairs prompts several important questions: is IR ecology maturing as a field of research? Is IR research contributing to the scientific progress of general ecology? Can key questions in ecology be addressed through the study of IRs as highly dynamic ecosystems? What can ecological concepts and methods bring to IR management? After years of near-obscurity, the ecological study of IRs is today not a “dry” topic but one that is fresh, multifaceted, and trending upward in freshwater science and management. This Special Issue brings together the latest developments in IR research through 12 manuscripts spanning observational case studies, field and laboratory experiments and reviews to guide the research and management agenda in this dynamic field of freshwater science.


Although more than half the world's river networks comprise channels that periodically cease to flow and dry [intermittent rivers (IRs)], river ecology was largely developed from and for perennial systems. Ecological knowledge of IRs is rapidly increasing, so there is a need to synthesise this knowledge and deepen ecological understanding.In this Special Issue, we bring together 13 papers spanning observational case studies, field and laboratory experiments and reviews to guide research and management in this productive field of freshwater science. We summarise new developments in IR ecology, identify research gaps and needs, and address how the study of IRs as highly dynamic ecosystems informs ecological understanding more broadly.This series of articles reveals that contemporary IR ecology is a multifaceted and maturing field of research at the interface between aquatic and terrestrial ecology. This research contributes to fresh water and general ecology by testing concepts across a range of topics, including disturbance ecology, metacommunity ecology and coupled aquatic-terrestrial ecosystems.Drying affects flow continuity through time and flow connectivity across longitudinal, lateral and vertical dimensions of space, which aligns well with the recent emphasis of mainstream ecology on meta-system perspectives. Although most articles here focus on the wet phase, there is growing interest in dry phases, and in the terrestrial vegetation and invertebrate assemblages living in and along IR channels. We encourage interdisciplinary studies on IRs to further blur the demarcation between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems and develop more integrated perspectives.As a result of climate change and human modification of landscapes and waterways, flooding and drought are expected to become more extreme and widespread. Shifts in streamflow regimes from perennial to intermittent may exacerbate the duration and frequency of dry phases in IRs with serious implications for river ecosystems and the quality and diversity of services they provide.

URLs/Downloads:   Exit

Record Details:

Product Published Date: 07/05/2016
Record Last Revised: 07/13/2016
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 321493