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Ecological research and management of intermittent rivers: an historical review and future directions
Leigh, C., A. Boulton, J. Courtwright, K. Fritz, C. May, R. Walker, AND T. Datry. Ecological research and management of intermittent rivers: an historical review and future directions. FRESHWATER BIOLOGY. Blackwell Publishing, Malden, MA, 61(8):1181–1199, (2016).
This papers traces the development and maturation of intermittent river research by focusing on seven key topics of study: natural history; invertebrate ecology; fish ecology; biogeochemistry; environmental assessment and management; conservation and restoration; and policy. The paper considers factors driving developments in intermittent river research (e.g. key publications, external events, technical advancements) and how these developments have broadened or consolidated ecological understanding and management of intermittent rivers. For several topics (invertebrate and fish ecology, biogeochemistry, and assessment and management) we also use bibliometrics approaches to explore patterns and trends in publications. Our examination of the historical development of intermittent river research reveals how major advances in ecological understanding and management of intermittent rivers have enriched current scientific knowledge and its application, although we identify several gaps that remain. This paper is part of a special issue dedicated to intermittent river ecology and the challenges, developments and perspectives of it maturing into a multi-diciplinary science.
Rivers and streams that do not flow permanently (herein intermittent rivers; IRs) make up a large proportion of the world's inland waters and are gaining widespread attention. We review the research on IRs from its early focus on natural history through to current application in management and policy.The few early studies of the ecology of IRs were largely descriptive. Nevertheless, in the 1970s, synthesis of this sparse research complemented work on temporary standing waters to found a powerful framework for much of the subsequent research on IRs.Research on the ecology and biogeochemistry of IRs continues to fuel our understanding of resistance and resilience to drying and flooding as disturbances. Syntheses of the growing literature, including cross-continental and cross-climate comparisons, are revealing the generality and individuality of ecological and ecosystem responses to flow cessation and surface water loss. Meanwhile, increasing numbers of experiments test the causality of these responses.Much of the increased consideration of IRs in research, management and policy is driven by the observed and projected shifts in flow regimes from perennial to intermittent associated with changes in land and water use and climate, superimposed on the high incidence of natural intermittency. The need to protect and better manage IRs is prompting researchers to develop new or modified methods to monitor flow status and assess the ecological condition of these systems.Intermittent river research and management will benefit from greater exploration of aquatic–terrestrial linkages, wet–dry cycling and temporal dynamics, more-detailed mapping and predictive modelling of flow intermittency and the application of metapopulation and metacommunity concepts alongside multiple-stressors and novel-ecosystems research. By building on existing knowledge, continuing to develop quantitative models and distribution maps and using experiments to test hypotheses and concepts, we can further ecological understanding and wise management of these ubiquitous ecosystems.
Record Details:Record Type: DOCUMENT (JOURNAL/PEER REVIEWED JOURNAL)
Organization:U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
NATIONAL EXPOSURE RESEARCH LABORATORY
ECOLOGICAL EXPOSURE RESEARCH DIVISION
ECOSYSTEMS RESEARCH BRANCH