River Continuum Concepts

1116 Words 5 Pages
All waterways were not created equal. Those who have never spent time studying stream structure or ecology are likely to incorrectly assume that any stream is, for the most part, just like any other stream. However, this is a dangerous misconception that is not at all correct. The truth is that streams and rivers provide a huge diversity of food, prey, and shelter along their length. This diversity can be explained by the River Continuum Concept and stems from the many different and highly variable physical stream structures and parameters that evolve as a waterway increases in size. The River Continuum Concept is an ecological theory which posits that researchers must consider how the entire riverine system is functionally linked. Because …show more content…
This method is known as stream order. The smallest headwater streams resulting from underground water flow or runoff from mountains into valleys are known as 1st order streams. When two first order streams meet with one another, the resulting stream approximately doubles in size and the new waterway is known as a 2nd order stream. Stream confluence is needed to increase stream order, and this pattern continues on with two 2nd order streams creating a 3rd order stream and so …show more content…
There are two major ways by which energy enters the stream system allochthonously. These are vertical and lateral energy flux. Vertical flux is energy entering the stream from the hyporheic zone and surface water exchanging with one another. Lateral energy flux is when the vegetation from the riparian zone provides energy to the stream through decaying leaves, dead trees, shrubs, etc. Animal carcasses and feces dropped into the waterway also provide gigantic influxes of energy to the stream food web that supports the growth of many microorganisms which in turn support the growth of microinvertebrates and eventually larger vertebrates. Since water is continually flowing downstream, any energy entering the system is eventually pushed downstream to support the biota of the downstream

Related Documents