Metabolic Variance: A Metric to Detect Shifts in Stream Ecosystem Function as a Result of Stream Restoration

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Journal of the American Water Resources Association



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ecosystem function, ecosystem metabolism, environmental indicators, hydraulics, monitoring, restoration, rivers/streams


© 2019 American Water Resources Association The restoration of lotic ecosystems as currently practiced is constrained by a limited understanding of the emergence of stream ecosystem functions and their linkages to perceived ecosystem services valued by society. An investigation was made into the connections between ecosystem function and hydraulic structure of a stream impacted by gravel mining operations in western New York. Stream ecosystem metabolic parameters were measured using two-point dissolved oxygen diurnals on multiple reaches of the same stream, and were correlated with geomorphic and hydraulic descriptors of the same reaches. Results showed ecosystem metabolism at the reach scale varied as a function of geomorphic condition, where higher primary production and community respiration (CR) were observed for reaches observed to be unstable vs. those that were stable or restored. The metabolic variance of a stream ecosystem, proposed as a measure of the degree to which a desired ecological functional goal has been achieved post-restoration, is determined as the rate of change of the ratio of primary production to CR. Shifts in the P/R ratio were evident in reaches post-restoration, presumably as a result of changes in hydraulic structure, supporting the utility of the ratio by describing a direct link between instream hydraulic conditions and ecosystem function.

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