Landscape Ecology

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 119–136 | Cite as

Baseflow physical characteristics differ at multiple spatial scales in stream networks across diverse biomes

  • Janine Rüegg
  • Walter K. Dodds
  • Melinda D. Daniels
  • Ken R. Sheehan
  • Christina L. Baker
  • William B. Bowden
  • Kaitlin J. Farrell
  • Michael B. Flinn
  • Tamara K. Harms
  • Jeremy B. Jones
  • Lauren E. Koenig
  • John S. Kominoski
  • William H. McDowell
  • Samuel P. Parker
  • Amy D. Rosemond
  • Matt T. Trentman
  • Matt Whiles
  • Wilfred M. Wollheim
Research Article

Abstract

Context

Spatial scaling of ecological processes is facilitated by quantifying underlying habitat attributes. Physical and ecological patterns are often measured at disparate spatial scales limiting our ability to quantify ecological processes at broader spatial scales using physical attributes.

Objective

We characterized variation of physical stream attributes during periods of high biological activity (i.e., baseflow) to match physical and ecological measurements and to identify the spatial scales exhibiting and predicting heterogeneity.

Methods

We measured canopy cover, wetted width, water depth, and sediment size along transects of 1st–5th order reaches in five stream networks located in biomes from tropical forest to arctic tundra. We used hierarchical analysis of variance with three nested scales (watersheds, stream orders, reaches) to identify scales exhibiting significant heterogeneity in attributes and regression analyses to characterize gradients within and across stream networks.

Results

Heterogeneity was evident at one or multiple spatial scales: canopy cover and water depth varied significantly at all three spatial scales while wetted width varied at two scales (stream order and reach) and sediment size remained largely unexplained. Similarly, prediction by drainage area depended on the attribute considered: depending on the watershed, increases in wetted width and water depth with drainage area were best fit with a linear, logarithmic, or power function. Variation in sediment size was independent of drainage area.

Conclusions

The scaling of ecologically relevant baseflow physical characteristics will require study beyond the traditional bankfull geomorphology since predictions of baseflow physical attributes by drainage area were not always best explained by geomorphic power laws.

Keywords

Geomorphology Nested ANOVA Scaling Grasslands Temperate forest Boreal forest 

Supplementary material

10980_2015_289_MOESM1_ESM.tif (20.1 mb)
Hydrograph of the study periods at one gauged station in each stream network. Grey areas indicate sampling window of data collected presented in this manuscript. Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material. (TIF 20,532 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Janine Rüegg
    • 1
  • Walter K. Dodds
    • 1
  • Melinda D. Daniels
    • 2
  • Ken R. Sheehan
    • 3
  • Christina L. Baker
    • 4
  • William B. Bowden
    • 5
  • Kaitlin J. Farrell
    • 6
  • Michael B. Flinn
    • 7
  • Tamara K. Harms
    • 4
  • Jeremy B. Jones
    • 4
  • Lauren E. Koenig
    • 3
  • John S. Kominoski
    • 8
  • William H. McDowell
    • 3
  • Samuel P. Parker
    • 5
  • Amy D. Rosemond
    • 6
  • Matt T. Trentman
    • 1
    • 10
  • Matt Whiles
    • 9
  • Wilfred M. Wollheim
    • 3
  1. 1.Division of BiologyKansas State UniversityManhattanUSA
  2. 2.Stroud Water Resources CenterAvondaleUSA
  3. 3.Department of Natural Resources and the EnvironmentUniversity of New HampshireDurhamUSA
  4. 4.Department of Biology and Wildlife and Institute of Arctic BiologyUniversity of Alaska FairbanksFairbanksUSA
  5. 5.Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural ResourcesUniversity of VermontBurlingtonUSA
  6. 6.Odum School of EcologyUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  7. 7.Department of Biological SciencesMurray State UniversityMurrayUSA
  8. 8.Department of Biological SciencesFlorida International UniversityMiamiUSA
  9. 9.Department of Zoology and Center for EcologySouthern Illinois UniversityCarbondaleUSA
  10. 10.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of Notre DameNotre DameUSA

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