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Primary Producers

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Primary producers acquire energy from nonliving sources, typically sunlight and inorganic compounds, and so are also known as autotrophs. Principle autotrophs of running waters include algae, some bacteria and protists, and higher plants. Algae are diverse taxonomically and in size and growth form. Algae of running waters that occur on substrates, commonly in association with heterotrophic microbes, are referred to as benthic algae or periphyton. Benthic algae are important in fluvial food webs, especially in headwater and midsized streams, and they also influence benthic habitat and nutrient cycling. Factors limiting the productivity of benthic algae include light and nutrients, which, along with temperature, influence biomass accrual; and disturbance and grazing, which are the factors that lead to algal dislodgement and the loss of biomass. Phytoplankton occur in the water column of larger and slower rivers, and macrophytes most commonly are found along the margins of larger rivers and in backwaters. Acidification, increased water temperature, eutrophication, pollution, and invasive species can have major impacts on autotroph biomass and diversity in running waters. Because algae and macrophytes are sensitive to changes in environmental conditions, they can be useful in stream bioassessments to determine human impacts on a river ecosystem.

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-61286-3_6
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Fig. 6.1

(Reproduced from Steinman 1996)

Fig. 6.2

(Reproduced from Biggs 1996)

Fig. 6.3

(Reproduced from Hill et al. 2001)

Fig. 6.4

(Reproduced from Hill et al. 2001)

Fig. 6.5

(Reproduced from Mosisch et al. 2001)

Fig. 6.6

(Reproduced from Warren et al. 2017)

Fig. 6.7

(Reproduced from Hill et al. 2009)

Fig. 6.8

(Reproduced from Davies and Bothwell 2012)

Fig. 6.9

(Reproduced from Flecker et al. 2002)

Fig. 6.10

(Reproduced from Mosisch et al. 1999)

Fig. 6.11

(Reproduced from Tank and Dodds 2003)

Fig. 6.12

(Reproduced from McCall et al. 2017)

Fig. 6.13

(Reproduced from Hondzo and Wang 2002)

Fig. 6.14

(Reproduced from Biggs et al. 1998a)

Fig. 6.15

(Reproduced from Rott et al. 2006)

Fig. 6.16
Fig. 6.17

(Reproduced from Sand-Jensen 1998)

Fig. 6.18

(Reproduced from Istvánovics et al. 2014)

Fig. 6.19
Fig. 6.20

(Reproducede from Schneider and Lindstrøm 2011)


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Correspondence to J. David Allan .

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Allan, J.D., Castillo, M.M., Capps, K.A. (2021). Primary Producers. In: Stream Ecology . Springer, Cham.

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