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Contraction, fragmentation and expansion dynamics determine nutrient availability in a Mediterranean forest stream.

AuthorsVon Schiller, D. ; Acuña, Vicenç; Graeber, D.; Martí, Eugènia ; Ribot, Miquel ; Sabater, Sergi; Timoner, X.; Tockner, K.
KeywordsTemporary streams
Flow intermittency
Spatial heterogeneity
Issue Date2011
CitationAquatic Sciences 73: 485-497 (2011)
AbstractTemporary streams are a dominant surface water type in the Mediterranean region. As a consequence of their hydrologic regime, these ecosystems contract and fragment as they dry, and expand after rewetting. Global change leads to a rapid increase in the extent of temporary streams, and more and more permanent streams are turning temporary. Consequently, there is an urgent need to better understand the effects of flow intermittency on the biogeochemistry and ecology of stream ecosystems. Our aim was to investigate how stream nutrient availability varied in relation to ecosystem contraction, fragmentation and expansion due to hydrologic drying and rewetting. We quantified the temporal and spatial changes in dissolved nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) concentrations along a reach of a temporary Mediterranean forest stream during an entire contraction–fragmentation–expansion hydrologic cycle. We observed marked temporal changes in N and P concentrations, in the proportion of organic and inorganic forms as well as in stoichiometric ratios, reflecting shifts in the relative importance of in-stream nutrient processing and external nutrient sources. In addition, the spatial heterogeneity of N and P concentrations and their ratios increased substantially with ecosystem fragmentation, reflecting the high relevance of in-stream processes when advective transport was lost. Overall, changes were more pronounced for N than for P. This study emphasizes the significance of flow intermittency in regulating stream nutrient availability and its implications for temporary stream management. Moreover, our results point to potential biogeochemical responses of these ecosystems in more temperate regions under future water scarcity scenarios.
Description13 páginas, 6 figuras.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00027-011-0195-6
Appears in Collections:(CEAB) Artículos
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