Similarity of stream width distributions across headwater systems.
ABSTRACT: The morphology and abundance of streams control the rates of hydraulic and biogeochemical exchange between streams, groundwater, and the atmosphere. In large river systems, the relationship between river width and abundance is fractal, such that narrow rivers are proportionally more common than wider rivers. However, in headwater systems, where many biogeochemical reactions are most rapid, the relationship between stream width and abundance is unknown. To constrain this uncertainty, we surveyed stream hydromorphology (wetted width and length) in several headwater stream networks across North America and New Zealand. Here, we find a strikingly consistent lognormal statistical distribution of stream width, including a characteristic most abundant stream width of 32?±?7?cm independent of discharge or physiographic conditions. We propose a hydromorphic model that can be used to more accurately estimate the hydromorphology of streams, with significant impact on the understanding of the hydraulic, ecological, and biogeochemical functions of stream networks.
Project description:Stream and river restoration practices have become common in many parts of the world. We ask the question whether such restorations improve freshwater biotic assemblages or functions over time, and if not, can general reasons be identified for such outcomes. We conducted a literature survey and review of studies in which different types of stream restorations were conducted and outcomes reported. These restoration types included culvert restoration; acid mine restoration or industrial pollutant restoration; urban stream restoration; dam removal, changes in dam operation, or fish passage structures; instream habitat modification; riparian restoration or woody material addition; channel restoration and multiple restorations. The streams ranged from headwater streams to large rivers, and the regions included North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, and a small number of sites in Asia and Africa. In this part of the review, we describe the methods used for the review and present reviews for the first three types of stream restorations. For culvert restorations, the small sample size and variable study design and biotic responses limited generalizing about temporal and spatial scale effects for that restoration type. The complex and often lengthy time to restore streams from acid mine drainage and industrial pollutants often resulted in positive biotic responses, but restored sites had reduced responses compared to reference sites. Most urban stream restorations had minimal or mixed improvements in biotic responses, with one mismatch in spatial scale evidenced by hydraulic structures used in a restoration unable to withstand peak discharge.
Project description:Looking across a landscape, river networks appear deceptively static. However, flowing streams expand and contract following ever-changing hydrological conditions of the surrounding environment. Despite the ecological and biogeochemical value of rivers with discontinuous flow, deciphering the temporary nature of streams and quantifying their extent remains challenging. Using a unique observational dataset spanning diverse geomorphoclimatic settings, we demonstrate the existence of a general hierarchical structuring of river network dynamics. Specifically, temporary stream activation follows a fixed and repeatable sequence, in which the least persistent sections activate only when the most persistent ones are already flowing. This hierarchical phenomenon not only facilitates monitoring activities, but enables the development of a general mathematical framework that elucidates how climate drives temporal variations in the active stream length. As the climate gets drier, the average fraction of the flowing network decreases while its relative variability increases. Our study provides a novel conceptual basis for characterizing temporary streams and quantifying their ecological and biogeochemical impacts.
Project description:In Latin America and the Caribbean, river restoration projects are increasing, but many lack strategic planning and monitoring. We tested the applicability of a rapid visual social-ecological stream assessment method for restoration planning, complemented by a citizen survey on perceptions and uses of blue and green infrastructure. We applied the method at three urban streams in Jarabacoa (Dominican Republic) to identify and prioritize preferred areas for nature-based solutions. The method provides spatially explicit information for strategic river restoration planning, and its efficiency makes it suitable for use in data-poor contexts. It identifies well-preserved, moderately altered, and critically impaired areas regarding their hydromorphological and socio-cultural conditions, as well as demands on green and blue infrastructure. The transferability of the method can be improved by defining reference states for assessing the hydromorphology of tropical rivers, refining socio-cultural parameters to better address river services and widespread urban challenges, and balancing trade-offs between ecological and social restoration goals.
Project description:Microbial communities are responsible for the bulk of biogeochemical processing in temporary headwater streams, yet there is still relatively little known about how community structure and function respond to periodic drying. Moreover, the ability to sample temporary habitats can be a logistical challenge due to the limited capability to measure and predict the timing, intensity and frequency of wet-dry events. Unsurprisingly, published datasets on microbial community structure and function are limited in scope and temporal resolution and vary widely in the molecular methods applied. We compared environmental and microbial community datasets for permanent and temporary tributaries of two different North American headwater stream systems: Speed River (Ontario, Canada) and Parkers Creek (Maryland, USA). We explored whether taxonomic diversity and community composition were altered as a result of flow permanence and compared community composition amongst streams using different 16S microbial community methods (i.e., T-RFLP and Illumina MiSeq). Contrary to our hypotheses, and irrespective of method, community composition did not respond strongly to drying. In both systems, community composition was related to site rather than drying condition. Additional network analysis on the Parkers Creek dataset indicated a shift in the central microbial relationships between temporary and permanent streams. In the permanent stream at Parkers Creek, associations of methanotrophic taxa were most dominant, whereas associations with taxa from the order Nitrospirales were more dominant in the temporary stream, particularly during dry conditions. We compared these results with existing published studies from around the world and found a wide range in community responses to drying. We conclude by proposing three hypotheses that may address contradictory results and, when tested across systems, may expand understanding of the responses of microbial communities in temporary streams to natural and human-induced fluctuations in flow-status and permanence.
Project description:By considering the role of site-level factors and dispersal, metacommunity concepts have advanced our understanding of the processes that structure ecological communities. In dendritic systems, like streams and rivers, these processes may be impacted by network connectivity and unidirectional current. Streams and rivers are central to the dispersal of many pathogens, including parasites with complex, multi-host life cycles. Patterns in parasite distribution and diversity are often driven by host dispersal. We conducted two studies at different spatial scales (within and across stream networks) to investigate the importance of local and regional processes that structure trematode (parasitic flatworms) communities in streams. First, we examined trematode communities in first-intermediate host snails (Elimia proxima) in a survey of Appalachian headwater streams within the Upper New River Basin to assess regional turnover in community structure. We analyzed trematode communities based on both morphotype (visual identification) and haplotype (molecular identification), as cryptic diversity in larval trematodes could mask important community-level variation. Second, we examined communities at multiple sites (headwaters and main stem) within a stream network to assess potential roles of network position and downstream drift. Across stream networks, we found a broad scale spatial pattern in morphotype- and haplotype-defined communities due to regional turnover in the dominant parasite type. This pattern was correlated with elevation, but not with any other environmental factors. Additionally, we found evidence of multiple species within morphotypes, and greater genetic diversity in parasites with hosts limited to in-stream dispersal. Within network parasite prevalence, for at least some parasite taxa, was related to several site-level factors (elevation, snail density and stream depth), and total prevalence decreased from headwaters to main stem. Variation in the distribution and diversity of parasites at the regional scale may reflect differences in the abilities of hosts to disperse across the landscape. Within a stream network, species-environment relationships may counter the effects of downstream dispersal on community structure.
Project description:Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing extraction procedures have become increasingly present in Pennsylvania where the Marcellus Shale play is largely located. The potential for long-term environmental impacts to nearby headwater stream ecosystems and aquatic bacterial assemblages is still incompletely understood. Here, we perform high-throughput sequencing of the 16?S rRNA gene to characterize the bacterial community structure of water, sediment, and other environmental samples (n?=?189) from 31 headwater stream sites exhibiting different histories of fracking activity in northwestern Pennsylvania over five years (2012-2016). Stream pH was identified as a main driver of bacterial changes within the streams and fracking activity acted as an environmental selector for certain members at lower taxonomic levels within stream sediment. Methanotrophic and methanogenic bacteria (i.e. Methylocystaceae, Beijerinckiaceae, and Methanobacterium) were significantly enriched in sites exhibiting Marcellus shale activity (MSA+) compared to MSA- streams. This study highlighted potential sentinel taxa associated with nascent Marcellus shale activity and some of these taxa remained as stable biomarkers across this five-year study. Identifying the presence and functionality of specific microbial consortia within fracking-impacted streams will provide a clearer understanding of the natural microbial community's response to fracking and inform in situ remediation strategies.
Project description:Streams and rivers form conspicuous networks on the Earth and are among nature's most effective integrators. Their dendritic structure reaches into the terrestrial landscape and accumulates water and sediment en route from abundant headwater streams to a single river mouth. The prevailing view over the last decades has been that biological diversity also accumulates downstream. Here, we show that this pattern does not hold for fluvial biofilms, which are the dominant mode of microbial life in streams and rivers and which fulfil critical ecosystem functions therein. Using 454 pyrosequencing on benthic biofilms from 114 streams, we found that microbial diversity decreased from headwaters downstream and especially at confluences. We suggest that the local environment and biotic interactions may modify the influence of metacommunity connectivity on local biofilm biodiversity throughout the network. In addition, there was a high degree of variability in species composition among headwater streams that could not be explained by geographical distance between catchments. This suggests that the dendritic nature of fluvial networks constrains the distributional patterns of microbial diversity similar to that of animals. Our observations highlight the contributions that headwaters make in the maintenance of microbial biodiversity in fluvial networks.
Project description:Biogeochemical processing of dissolved organic matter (DOM) in headwater rivers regulates aquatic food web dynamics, water quality, and carbon storage. Although headwater rivers are critical sources of energy to downstream ecosystems, underlying mechanisms structuring DOM composition and reactivity are not well quantified. By pairing mass spectrometry and fluorescence spectroscopy, here we show that hydrology and river geomorphology interactively shape molecular patterns in DOM composition. River segments with a single channel flowing across the valley bottom export DOM with a similar chemical profile through time. In contrast, segments with multiple channels of flow store large volumes of water during peak flows, which they release downstream throughout the summer. As flows subside, losses of lateral floodplain connectivity significantly increase the heterogeneity of DOM exported downstream. By linking geomorphologic landscape-scale processes with microbial metabolism, we show DOM heterogeneity increases as a function of fluvial complexity, with implications for ecosystem function and watershed management.
Project description:Land use is known to alter the nature of land-water interactions, but the potential effects of widespread forest management on headwaters in boreal regions remain poorly understood. We evaluated the importance of catchment land use, land cover, and local stream variables for macroinvertebrate community and functional trait diversity in 18 boreal headwater streams. Variation in macroinvertebrate metrics was often best explained by in-stream variables, primarily water chemistry (e.g. pH). However, variation in stream variables was, in turn, significantly associated with catchment-scale forestry land use. More specifically, streams running through catchments that were dominated by young (11-50 years) forests had higher pH, greater organic matter standing stock, higher abundance of aquatic moss, and the highest macroinvertebrate diversity, compared to streams running through recently clear-cut and old forests. This indicates that catchment-scale forest management can modify in-stream habitat conditions with effects on stream macroinvertebrate communities and that characteristics of younger forests may promote conditions that benefit headwater biodiversity.
Project description:Anthropogenic activities have led to increases in nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from river systems, but there are large uncertainties in estimates due to lack of data in tropical rivers and rapid increase in human activity. We assessed the effects of land use and river size on N2O flux and concentration in 46 stream sites in the Mara River, Kenya, during the transition from the wet (short rains) to dry season, November 2017 to January 2018. Flux estimates were similar to other studies in tropical and temperate systems, but in contrast to other studies, land use was more related to N2O concentration and flux than stream size. Agricultural stream sites had the highest fluxes (26.38 ± 5.37 N2O-N ?g·m-2·hr-1) compared to both forest and livestock sites (5.66 ± 1.38 N2O-N ?g·m-2·hr-1 and 6.95 ± 2.96 N2O-N ?g·m-2·hr-1, respectively). N2O concentrations in forest and agriculture streams were positively correlated to stream carbon dioxide (CO2-C(aq)) but showed a negative correlation with dissolved organic carbon, and the dissolved organic carbon:dissolved inorganic nitrogen ratio. N2O concentration in the livestock sites had a negative relationship with CO2-C(aq) and a higher number of negative fluxes. We concluded that in-stream chemoautotrophic nitrification was likely the main biogeochemical process driving N2O production in agricultural and forest streams, whereas complete denitrification led to the consumption of N2O in the livestock stream sites. These results point to the need to better understand the relative importance of nitrification and denitrification in different habitats in producing N2O and for process-based studies.