An ecohydrological typology for thermal refuges in streams and rivers

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Thermal refuges are thermally distinct riverscape features used by aquatic organisms during unfavorable thermal events, facilitating resilience in marginal environments. However, the thermal refuge concept is nebulous, and the often interchangeable use of the term ‘thermal refugia’ creates additional ambiguity. We argue that lexical differences resulting from divergent scholarly trainings hinder holistic understanding of thermal refuges; thus, existing studies would benefit from a structured framework for thermal refuge conceptualization. Herein, we articulate an ecohydrological typology for defining and characterizing thermal refuges in streams and rivers by identifying key hydrological and thermal characteristics and variations in ecological function described in the literature. We use concepts that are easily definable, measurable, and transferable across disciplines, riverscapes, and species to discriminate among thermal refuge types. Future work can use our typology as a basis for more informed interdisciplinary discussion and interpretation of thermal refuges’ role in riverscapes through more hypothesis‐driven research and conservation‐focused management.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title An ecohydrological typology for thermal refuges in streams and rivers
Series title Ecohydrology
DOI 10.1002/eco.2295
Volume 14
Issue 5
Year Published 2021
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) WMA - Earth System Processes Division
Description e2295, 15 p.
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