The influence of regional and local parameters on stream metabolism

Paul, Trevor
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University of Guelph

Stream ecosystems provide several environmental, economic, and social benefits to humans. However, climate change and anthropogenic activities contribute to the degradation of stream ecosystems and the services provided. The quantification of this degradation poses a challenge to ecologists. Stream metabolism has been identified as a quality measurement of ecosystem health and resilience to many perturbations. However, conflicting opinions in previous literature indicate difficulties in accurately determining specific influences on stream metabolism. One hypothesized reason for this is that factors associated with stream metabolism vary across spatial scales, from local drivers to regional drivers. Here, using a meta-analytical approach, I tested for relationships between both regional and local drivers on stream metabolism. Stream data were collected from thirteen scientific papers from varying ecoregions and land-uses to observe how stream-metabolism responded on to regional and local influences. The analysis revealed significant differences among ecoregions (temporal vs. tropical) and land-uses (human-impacted vs. undisturbed). At local scales, light availability (PAR) was established as primary influencers on varying stream metabolic rates. Adaptive management by the agricultural and conservation sector is recommended, using metabolism as a quantitative measure to identify vulnerable areas. Future adaptations to metabolism studies should look to prolong the studied period to reduce variability in metabolic and physiochemical measurements within streams.

stream metabolism, stream ecosystems, GPP, ecosystem respiration, landuse