Connectivity of streams and wetlands to downstream waters: An integrated systems framework

Journal of the American Water Resources Association
By: , and 

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Abstract

Interest in connectivity has increased in the aquatic sciences, partly because of its relevance to the Clean Water Act. This paper has two objectives: (1) provide a framework to understand hydrological, chemical, and biological connectivity, focusing on how headwater streams and wetlands connect to and contribute to rivers; and (2) briefly review methods to quantify hydrological and chemical connectivity. Streams and wetlands affect river structure and function by altering material and biological fluxes to the river; this depends on two factors: (1) functions within streams and wetlands that affect material fluxes; and (2) connectivity (or isolation) from streams and wetlands to rivers that allows (or prevents) material transport between systems. Connectivity can be described in terms of frequency, magnitude, duration, timing, and rate of change. It results from physical characteristics of a system, e.g., climate, soils, geology, topography, and the spatial distribution of aquatic components. Biological connectivity is also affected by traits and behavior of the biota. Connectivity can be altered by human impacts, often in complex ways. Because of variability in these factors, connectivity is not constant but varies over time and space. Connectivity can be quantified with field‐based methods, modeling, and remote sensing. Further studies using these methods are needed to classify and quantify connectivity of aquatic ecosystems and to understand how impacts affect connectivity.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Connectivity of streams and wetlands to downstream waters: An integrated systems framework
Series title Journal of the American Water Resources Association
DOI 10.1111/1752-1688.12631
Volume 54
Issue 2
Year Published 2018
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center
Description 25 p.
First page 298
Last page 322
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