, Volume 638, Issue 1, pp 85–107

Two-zone model for stream and river ecosystems

  • Omar I. Abdul-Aziz
  • Bruce N. Wilson
  • John S. Gulliver
Primary Research Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10750-009-0011-7

Cite this article as:
Abdul-Aziz, O.I., Wilson, B.N. & Gulliver, J.S. Hydrobiologia (2010) 638: 85. doi:10.1007/s10750-009-0011-7


A mechanistic two-zone model is developed to represent the food web dynamics of stream and river ecosystems by considering the benthic and nonbenthic (or water-column) zones as two separate, but interacting biotopes. Flow processes, solar radiation, and temperature are the dynamic external environmental drivers. State variables are defined to represent the hierarchical levels of detritus, limiting nutrient, vegetation, and invertebrates. The fish trophic level is included as a constant input parameter. Model parameters, constants, and boundary conditions are defined based on watershed as well as channel hydrology, stream geomorphology, and biological activities. Recent advances in ecological science and engineering are used in representing important biogeochemical processes. In particular, the turbulent diffusion, as well as sloughing or detachment, processes are defined based on these recent advancements. The two-zone model was evaluated for a gravel bed prealpine Swiss stream named River Necker with data for the study period of January 1992 through December 1994. The model was able to capture the general trends and magnitudes of the food web state variables. A comprehensive relative sensitivity analysis with five moment-based measures found that approximately 5% of the model parameters were important in predicting benthic vegetation. Results of sensitivity analysis guided the model calibration. Simulated benthic vegetation with the calibrated model, which was obtained by adjusting only four parameters, corresponded with observed data. Hydrology-dependent sloughing and detachment were dominant in determining the response of benthic vegetation and invertebrates. The proposed two-zone food web model is a potentially useful research tool for stream and river ecosystems.


River and stream ecosystems Management Food web Two-zone model Evaluation 

Supplementary material

10750_2009_11_MOESM1_ESM.doc (32 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 32 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Omar I. Abdul-Aziz
    • 1
    • 2
  • Bruce N. Wilson
    • 3
  • John S. Gulliver
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, and Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and OceanUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Saint Anthony Falls LaboratoryUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  3. 3.Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems EngineeringUniversity of MinnesotaSt. PaulUSA
  4. 4.Department of Civil EngineeringUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA