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

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.

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Acknowledgements

We thank the authors and reviewers of the articles covered in this special issue on med-rivers. In addition, we would like to thank the scores of researchers whose efforts contributed to increasing the scientific knowledge of med-river ecology. Special thanks to the Editor-in-Chief of Hydrobiologia, Koen Martens, and all the Hydrobiologia editorial staff for the opportunity to prepare this volume. This review was supported by the BioFresh EU project-Biodiversity of Freshwater Ecosystems: Status, Trends, Pressures, and Conservation Priorities (7th FWP contract No 226874), the RICHABUN project funded by the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science FEDER (CGL2007-60163/BOS), the National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center for Reinventing the Nation’s Urban Water Infrastructure, ReNUWIt, and NSF proposal DBI 0956389.

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Guest editors: N. Bonada & V. H. Resh / Streams in Mediterranean-climate regions: lessons learned from the last decade

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Bonada, N., Resh, V.H. Mediterranean-climate streams and rivers: geographically separated but ecologically comparable freshwater systems. Hydrobiologia 719, 1–29 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10750-013-1634-2

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Keywords

  • Biodiversity
  • Disturbance
  • Droughts
  • Floods
  • Mediterranean regions
  • Seasonality