Homing in on factor interactions

March 27, 2017

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In most cases the dynamics of ecological systems are best explained as responses to a number of interacting environmental factors, rather than to a single variable. Such interactions can be complex, and although they may have major implications for management, they’re typically very poorly understood. A team of Australian researchers has proposed a method for […]

Floating times of riparian seeds

March 27, 2017

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Given the important role that the transport of water-borne seeds plays in the long-distance dispersal of riparian plants, surprisingly little is known about this process.   In laboratory experiments, a team of Australian and Chinese scientists measured the floating times of seeds collected from sixty species of Australian riparian plant species. Most species reached the test […]

How to predict water temperatures

March 27, 2017

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Because temperature is a key variable affecting a myriad of ecological processes, there’s a need for reliable ways of predicting the temperature of water bodies. Such temperatures can be influenced by both natural factors (e.g., air temperature, local topography, stream discharge, groundwater interactions) and anthropogenic factors (e.g., deforestation, thermal pollution, flow alteration, and runoff from […]

Tree cover makes for lower fish diversity

March 27, 2017

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A pervasive feature of lowland streams, especially in areas where land has been cleared for agriculture or urban development, is a decrease in forested cover from the headwaters to the mouth. The presence or absence of streamside tree cover has a profound influence on stream ecology. Streams running through undisturbed forests typically contain large woody […]

Factoring history into threat assessments

December 13, 2016

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Genetic variation allows populations to adapt to environmental changes, and it’s often the case that threatened species exhibit low genetic diversity. Human-produced habitat fragmentation is a well-recognised cause of genetic bottlenecks, but the additional effects of larger-scale biogeographic factors are rarely considered. As an example of such biogeographic impacts, populations that have managed to survive […]

How river transport affects dissolved organic matter

December 13, 2016

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In most rivers, the downstream transport of dissolved organic matter (DOM) makes large amounts of energy available to aquatic ecosystems. The River Continuum Concept (RCC) of Vannote et al. (1980) provided a useful framework for studying the influence of organic material from headwater streams on the structure and function of downstream ecosystems. The RCC hypothesized […]

Deciding on sites for conservation

December 13, 2016

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Biodiversity conservation is hampered by the fact that many species haven’t been described and most species ranges haven’t been mapped. As a result, in selecting sites for protection, natural resource managers often resort to the use of surrogate indicators for the species that they wish to conserve. Surrogates may be other, more common, species, or […]