Hydrobiologia

, Volume 422, Issue 0, pp 61–70 | Cite as

Biological processes in running waters and their implications for the assessment of ecological integrity

  • Stuart E. Bunn
  • Peter M. Davies
Article

Abstract

Although biomonitoring approaches are being increasingly used in the measurement of stream and river health, critical assumptions about the nature of biological populations and communities that underpin them are often ignored. Many approaches based on pattern detection in plant and animal communities assume high temporal persistence in the absence of anthropogenic disturbances. However, this has been rarely tested with long-term data sets and there is evidence that this assumption is not true in some river systems. Biological processes, such as predation and recruitment, can account for considerable spatial and temporal variation in the structure of some stream communities. These processes may prevent the development of robust predictive models or indices based on pattern detection. Measurements of population or community attributes also are often used to infer ecosystem processes, yet the link between pattern and process has rarely been demonstrated. Many goals of river management relate to the maintenance of natural ecological processes and ecosystem function; direct measurement of these processes is, however, often neglected in assessment programs. Such measures are often sensitive to causal factors that are known to affect river health and it is possible to develop simple but powerful predictive models. Perhaps more importantly, should an impact to be detected, strategies for remediation are more obvious as the causal processes are generally better known. The ultimate success of biomonitoring approaches depends on how well we understand the biophysical processes that influence the structure and dynamics of stream and river systems, and the way they function.

biological monitoring streams benthic communities ecosystem processes recruitment 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Allan, J. D., 1983. Predator-prey relationships in streams. In: Barnes, J. R. & G. W. Minshall (eds), Stream Ecology: Application and Testing of General Ecological Theory Plenum Press, New York: 191–229.Google Scholar
  2. Bott, T. L., J. J. Brock, C. S. Dunn, R. J. Naiman, R. W. Ovink & R. C. Peterson, 1985. Benthic community metabolism in four temperate stream systems: an inter-biome comparison and evaluation of the river continuum concept. Hydrobiologia 123: 3–45.Google Scholar
  3. Bunn, S. E., 1995. Biological monitoring of water quality in Australian: workshop summary and future directions. Aust. J. Ecol. 20: 220–227.Google Scholar
  4. Bunn, S. E. & P. M. Davies, 1990. Why is the stream fauna of southwestern Australia so impoverished? Hydrobiologia 194: 169–176.Google Scholar
  5. Bunn, S. E. & J. M. Hughes, 1997. Dispersal and recruitment in streams: Evidence from genetic studies. J. N. am. Benthol. Soc. 16: 338–346.Google Scholar
  6. Bunn, S. E., D. H. Edward & N. R. Loneragan, 1986. Spatial and temporal variation in the macroinvertebrate fauna of streams of the northern jarrah forest, Western Australia: community structure. Freshwat. Biol. 16: 67–92.Google Scholar
  7. Bunn, S. E., P. M. Davies, D. M. Kellaway & I. Prosser, 1998. Influence of invasive macrophytes on channel morphology and hydrology in an open tropical lowland stream, and potential control by riparian shading. Freshwat. Biol. 39: 171–178.Google Scholar
  8. Bunn, S. E., P. M. Davies & T. D Mosisch, 1999. Ecosystem measures of river health and their response to riparian and catchment degradation. Freshwat. Biol. 41: 333–345.Google Scholar
  9. Chessman, B. C., 1995. Rapid assessment of rivers using macroinvertebrates: a procedure based on habitat-specific sampling, family level identification and a biotic index. Aust. J. Ecol. 20: 122–129.Google Scholar
  10. Commonwealth of Australia, 1996. National Principles for the Provision of Water for Ecosystems. Occasional paper SWR No 3, Agriculture and Resource Management Council of Australia and New Zealand and Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council. ISBN 0 7310 2382 X.Google Scholar
  11. Cooper, S. D., S. J. Walde & B. L. Peckarsky, 1990. Prey exchange rates and the impact of predators on prey populations in streams. Ecology 71: 1503–1514.Google Scholar
  12. Council of Australian Governments, 1992. National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development. Australian Government Printing Service, Canberra.Google Scholar
  13. Cushing, C. E. & W. L. Gaines, 1989. Thoughts on recolonization of endorheic cold desert spring-streams. J. N. am. Benthol. Soc. 8: 277–287.Google Scholar
  14. Davies, P. M., 1994. Ecosystem ecology of upland streams of the northern jarrah forest, Western Australia. Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis, Department of Zoology, The University of Western Australia, 236 pp.Google Scholar
  15. Ebeling, A. W., S. J. Holbrook & R. J. Schmitt, 1990. Temporally concordant structure of a fish assemblage: bound or determined? Am. Nat. 135: 63–73.Google Scholar
  16. Faith D. P., P. L. Dostine & C. L. Humphrey, 1995. Detection of mining impacts on aquatic macroinvertebrate communities: Results of a disturbance experiment and the design of a multivariate BACIP monitoring program at Coronation Hill, Northern Territory. Aust. J. Ecol. 20: 167–180.Google Scholar
  17. Grossman, G. D., P. B. Moyle & J. O. Whitaker Jr., 1982. Stochasticity in structural and functional characteristics of an Indiana stream fish assemblage: a test of community theory. Am. Nat. 120: 423–454.Google Scholar
  18. Hancock, M. A. & S. E. Bunn, 1997. Population dynamics and life history of Paratya australiensis Kemp, 1917 (Decapoda: Atyidae) in upland rainforest streams, southeast Queensland. Mar. Freshwat. Res. 48: 361–369.Google Scholar
  19. Hildrew, A. G., 1992. Food webs and species interactions. In: Petts, G. & P. Calow (eds), The Rivers Handbook, Volume 1. Blackwell Science, London: 309–330.Google Scholar
  20. Hildrew, A. G. & C. R. Townsend, 1987. Organization in freshwater benthic communities. In: Gee, J. H. & P. S. Giller (eds), Organization of Communities: Past and Present, Symposia of the British Ecological Society. Blackwell Scientific, Oxford: 347–371.Google Scholar
  21. Hill, M. O., 1979. DECORANA-A FORTRAN Program for Detrended Correspondence Analysis and Reciprocal Averaging. Ecology and Systematics, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.Google Scholar
  22. Hughes, J. M., S. E. Bunn, D. Hurwood & M. Kingston, 1995. Genetic differentiation of populations of Paratya australiensis (Decapoda: Atyidae) in rainforest streams in south-east Queensland. J. N. am. Benthol. Soc. 14: 158–173.Google Scholar
  23. Hughes, J. M., S. E. Bunn, D. A. Hurwood, S. Choy & R. Pearson, 1996. Genetic differentiation among populations of Caridina zebra (Decapoda: Atyidae) in tropical rainforest streams, northern Australia. Freshwat. Biol. 36: 289–296.Google Scholar
  24. Hurlbert, S. H., 1997. Functional importance vs keystoneness: reformulating some questions in theoretical biocenology. Aust. J. Ecol. 22: 369–382.Google Scholar
  25. Huryn, A. D. & J. B. Wallace, 1987. Local geomorphology as a determinant of macrofaunal production in a mountain stream. Ecology 68: 1932–1942.Google Scholar
  26. Karr, J. R., 1991. Biological integrity: a long-neglected aspect of water resource management. Ecol. Appl. 1: 66–84.Google Scholar
  27. Karr, J. R. & E. W. Chu, 2000. Sustaining living rivers. Hydrobiologia 422/423: 1–13.Google Scholar
  28. Kay, W. R., M. J. Smith, A. M. Pinder, J. M. McRae, J. A. Davis & S. A. Halse, 1999. Patterns of distribution of macroinvertebrate families in rivers of north-western Australia. Freshwat. Biol. 41: 299–316.Google Scholar
  29. Keast, A., 1981. Ecological Biogeography of Australia. Dr W. Junk Publishers, The Hague.Google Scholar
  30. Mackay, R. J., 1992. Colonization by lotic macroinvertebrates: a review of processes and patterns. Can. J. Fish. aquat. Sci. 49: 617–628.Google Scholar
  31. Miller, M. C. & J. R. Stout, 1989. Variability of macroinvertebrate community composition in an arctic and subarctic stream. Hydrobiologia 172: 111–127.Google Scholar
  32. Mosisch, T. D. & S. E. Bunn, 1997. Temporal patterns in stream epilithic algae in response to discharge regime. Aquat. Bot. 58: 181–193.Google Scholar
  33. Moyle, P. B. & B. Vondracek, 1985. Persistence and structure of the fish assemblage in a small California stream. Ecology 66: 1–13.Google Scholar
  34. Naiman, R. J., 1983. The annual pattern and spatial distribution of aquatic oxygen metabolism in boreal forest watersheds. Ecol. Monogr. 53: 73–94.Google Scholar
  35. Norris, R. H. & K. R. Norris, 1995. The need for biological assessment of water quality: Australian perspective. Aust. J. Ecol. 20: 1–6.Google Scholar
  36. Petts, G. E., 2000. A perspective on the abiotic processes sustaining the ecological integrity of running waters. Hydrobiologia 422/423: 15–27.Google Scholar
  37. Power, M. E., 1990. Effects of fish in river food webs. Science 250: 811–814.Google Scholar
  38. Power, M. E., W. J. Matthews & A. J. Stewart, 1985. Grazing minnows, piscivorous bass, and stream algae: dynamics of a strong interaction. Ecology 66: 1448–1456.Google Scholar
  39. Pringle, C. M., R. J. Naiman, G. Bretschko, J. R. Karr, M. W. Oswood, J. R. Webster, R. L. Welcomme & M. J. Winterbourn, 1988. Patch dynamics in lotic systems: the stream as a mosaic. J. N. am. Benthol. Soc. 7: 503–524.Google Scholar
  40. Rapport, D. J., R. Costanza & A. J. McMichael, 1998. Assessing ecosystem health. Trends Ecol. Evol. 13: 397–402.Google Scholar
  41. Resh, V. H., R. H. Norris & M. T. Barbour, 1995. Design and implementation of rapid assessment approaches for water resource monitoring using benthic macroinvertebrates. Aust. J. Ecol. 20: 108–121.Google Scholar
  42. Sale, P. F., 1990. Recruitment of marine species: is the bandwagon rolling in the right direction? Trends Ecol. Evol. 5: 25–27.Google Scholar
  43. Schaeffer, D. J., E. E. Henricks & H. W. Kerster, 1988. Ecosystem health: 1. Measuring ecosystem health. Envir. Manage. 12: 445–455.Google Scholar
  44. Schofield, N. J. & P. E. Davies, 1996. Measuring the health of our rivers. Water (May/June): 39–43.Google Scholar
  45. Smith, M. J., W. R. Kay, D. H. D. Edward, P. J. Papas, K. S. J. Richardson, J. C. Simpson, A. M. Pinder, D. J. Cale, P. H. J. Horwitz, J. A. Davis, F. H. Yung, R. H. Norris & S. A. Halse, 1999. AusRivAS: using macroinvertebrates to assess ecological condition of rivers in Western Australia. Freshwat. Biol. 41: 269–282.Google Scholar
  46. Sousa, W. P., 1979. Disturbance in marine intertidal boulder fields; the non equilibrium maintenance of species diversity. Ecology 60: 1225–1239.Google Scholar
  47. Storey, A. W., S. E. Bunn, P. M. Davies & D. H. Edward, 1990. Classification of the macroinvertebrate fauna of two river systems in south-western Australia in relation to physical and chemical parameters. Regul. Riv. 5: 217–232.Google Scholar
  48. Surber, E. W., 1970. Procedure in taking stream bottom samples with the stream square foot bottom sampler. Proceedings of the 23rd Annual Conference of South East Game and Fisheries Commission 23: 587–591.Google Scholar
  49. Suter, G. W., 1993. A critique of ecosystem health concepts and indexes. Envir. Toxicol. Chem. 12: 1533–1539.Google Scholar
  50. Townsend, C. R., 1989. The patch dynamics concept of stream community ecology. J. N. am. Benthol. Soc. 8: 36–50.Google Scholar
  51. Underwood, A. J. & P. G. Fairweather, 1989. Supply-side ecology and benthic marine assemblages. Trends Ecol. Evol. 4: 16–20.Google Scholar
  52. Wallace, J. B., 1990. Recovery of lotic macroinvertebrate communities from disturbance. Envir. Manage. 15: 605–620.Google Scholar
  53. Wallace, J. B., J. W. Grubaugh & M. R. Whiles, 1996. Biotic indices and stream ecosystem processes: results from an experimental study. Ecol. Appl. 6: 140–151.Google Scholar
  54. Wicklum, D. & R. W. Davies, 1995. Ecosystem health and integrity. Can. J. Bot. 73: 997–1000.Google Scholar
  55. Wright, J. F., 1995. Development and use of a system for predicting the macroinvertebrate fauna in flowing waters. Aust. J. Ecol. 20: 181–197.Google Scholar
  56. Wright, J. F., D. Moss, P. D. Armitage & M. T. Furse, 1984. A preliminary classification of running water sites in Great Britain based on macroinvertebrate species and the prediction of community type using environmental data. Freshwat. Biol. 14: 221–256.Google Scholar
  57. Zaret, T. M., 1982. The stability/diversity controversy: a test of hypotheses. Ecology 63: 721–731.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stuart E. Bunn
    • 1
  • Peter M. Davies
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for Catchment and In-Stream Research, Faculty of Environmental SciencesGriffith UniversityNathanAustralia
  2. 2.Department of ZoologyThe University of Western AustraliaNedlandsAustralia

Personalised recommendations