Browsing All Posts filed under »plants«

The magical diatom diet

July 5, 2018

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In forested headwater streams, detritus derived from decaying plant material is the primary source of energy driving the aquatic ecosystem, and most studies of such systems have focussed on the fate of leaf litter, the main resource.   However, because the food quality of detritus is extremely low it’s unclear how headwater streams support their  biological […]

How land plants control water plants

July 5, 2018

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While terrestrial ecosystems rely on rainfall infiltration for their water supply, streamside ecosystems rely on the accumulation of surface and subsurface runoff in the riparian zone and the channel network.  Rainfall that manages to percolate through the soil profile recharges aquifers, and these  sustain streamflow and riparian and aquatic ecosystems during dry periods.  Focussing on […]

How delayed is the flow-on effect?

July 5, 2018

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It’s generally accepted that river flows have a major influence on the structure of stream communities, but what’s the lag time from river discharge to community expression?  This question is particularly relevant for headwater streams that are vulnerable to seasonal drying or the over-extraction of groundwater, where changes in flow often lead to successional changes […]

Triggers for algal blooms: peak temperatures aren’t always important

July 5, 2018


There are concerns that human impacts  on freshwater systems – particularly temperature increases linked to climate change and nutrient enrichment caused by run-off and pollution – are encouraging the spread of blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) capable of generating toxic blooms that threaten human and animal health.  One such case is the recent spread of Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii, […]

Why are there so many crocodiles in tropical waterholes?

March 26, 2018

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Transfers of organic material from one aquatic environment to another (for example, through flood pulses or animal migrations) allow productive donor ecosystems to subsidise less productive habitats. However, there are big variations in the extent to which different animal species depend on production subsidies.  To explore such differences, Australian researchers collected a wide array of […]

Freshwater conservation needs flagship umbrellas

March 26, 2018

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Flagship species are surrogate species that are used to raise public awareness and funds for conservation, while umbrella species are those which ensure that a wide range of co-occurring species are conserved when they themselves are afforded protection.  In principle, conservation efforts should be enhanced by identifying species – dubbed “flagship umbrellas” – that combine […]

How sedimentation affects the food web

March 25, 2018

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In rivers and streams, high predator densities are predicted to boost algal biomass by reducing the number of grazing animals. However, in disturbed systems the smothering of stream bed surfaces by sediment is expected to have an opposite, negative effect on algal biomass.  Studies that investigate interactions between sedimentation (an abiotic stress factor) and predation […]