The Natural Stream Ecosystem

  • Kenneth W. Cummins


In the past decade, theory of stream ecosystem structure and function has come to emphasize the origins and fates of organic resources and inorganic nutrients in running waters, which are viewed as subsystems of their watersheds or drainage basins (Cummins, 1974, 1975, 1977; Hynes, 1970, 1975; Cummins and Spengler, 1978; Minshall, 1978). Lotic research, conducted on isolated reaches without a spatial-temporal perspective of general watershed processes, has often proven too narrow to be of extensive use either for the development of theory or management application. Stream order (Strahler, 1957), geomorphic and vegetational setting, and the annual hydrograph pattern exert important controls on biological function. Studies of detritus dynamics in headwater streams have shown the importance of organic inputs from the riparian zone (Fisher and Likens, 1973; Sedell et al., 1975; Cummins et al., 1979). Management of the riparian zone exerts a major control on headwater streams, and such management of headwaters is a primary ingredient in the maintenance of community structure of larger receiving streams and rivers in a drainage net.


Riparian Zone Aquatic Insect Headwater Stream Stream Order Stream Ecosystem 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenneth W. Cummins
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Fisheries and WildlifeOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA

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