Hydrobiologia

, Volume 719, Issue 1, pp 1–29 | Cite as

Mediterranean-climate streams and rivers: geographically separated but ecologically comparable freshwater systems

MEDITERRANEAN CLIMATE STREAMS Review Paper

Abstract

Streams and rivers in mediterranean-climate regions (med-rivers in med-regions) are ecologically unique, with flow regimes reflecting precipitation patterns. Although timing of drying and flooding is predictable, seasonal and annual intensity of these events is not. Sequential flooding and drying, coupled with anthropogenic influences make these med-rivers among the most stressed riverine habitat worldwide. Med-rivers are hotspots for biodiversity in all med-regions. Species in med-rivers require different, often opposing adaptive mechanisms to survive drought and flood conditions or recover from them. Thus, metacommunities undergo seasonal differences, reflecting cycles of river fragmentation and connectivity, which also affect ecosystem functioning. River conservation and management is challenging, and trade-offs between environmental and human uses are complex, especially under future climate change scenarios. This overview of a Special Issue on med-rivers synthesizes information presented in 21 articles covering the five med-regions worldwide: Mediterranean Basin, coastal California, central Chile, Cape region of South Africa, and southwest and southern Australia. Research programs to increase basic knowledge in less-developed med-regions should be prioritized to achieve increased abilities to better manage med-rivers.

Keywords

Biodiversity Disturbance Droughts Floods Mediterranean regions Seasonality 

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Grup de Recerca Freshwater Ecology and Management (FEM), Departament d’Ecologia, Facultat de BiologiaUniversitat de Barcelona (UB)BarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Department of Environmental Science, Policy & ManagementUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

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