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Biota connect aquatic habitats throughout freshwater ecosystem mosaics

April 5, 2018

Freshwater ecosystems are linked at various spatial and temporal scales by movements of biota adapted to life in water. We review the literature on movements of aquatic organisms that connect different types of freshwater habitats, focusing on linkages from streams and wetlands to downstream waters. Here, streams, wetlands, rivers, lakes, ponds, and other freshwater habitats are viewed as dynamic freshwater ecosystem mosaics (FEMs) that collectively provide the resources needed to sustain aquatic life. Based on existing evidence, it is clear that biotic linkages throughout FEMs have important consequences for biological integrity and biodiversity. All aquatic organisms move within and among FEM components, but differ in the mode, frequency, distance, and timing of their movements. These movements allow biota to recolonize habitats, avoid inbreeding, escape stressors, locate mates, and acquire resources. Cumulatively, these individual movements connect populations within and among FEMs and contribute to local and regional diversity, resilience to disturbance, and persistence of aquatic species in the face of environmental change. Thus, the biological connections established by movement of biota among streams, wetlands, and downstream waters are critical to the ecological integrity of these systems. Future research will help advance our understanding of the movements that link FEMs and their cumulative effects on downstream waters.

Publication Year 2018
Title Biota connect aquatic habitats throughout freshwater ecosystem mosaics
DOI 10.1111/1752-1688.12634
Authors Kate A. Schofield, Laurie C. Alexander, Caroline E. Ridley, Melanie K. Vanderhoof, Ken M. Fritz, Bradley Autrey, Julie DeMeester, William G. Kepner, Charles R. Lane, Scott Leibowitz, Amina I. Pollard
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of the American Water Resources Association
Index ID 70196400
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center