Biotic and Abiotic Controls in River and Stream Communities

TitleBiotic and Abiotic Controls in River and Stream Communities
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1988
AuthorsPower, M. E., R. Stout J., Cushing C. E., Harper P. P., F. Hauer R., Matthews W. J., Moyle P. B., Statzner B., & De Badgen I. R. Wais
JournalJournal of the North American Benthological Society
Date Published12/1988
AbstractLotic ecologists share a major goal of explaining the distribution and abundance of biota in the world's rivers and streams, and of predicting how this biota will respond to change in fluvial ecosystems. We discuss five areas of research that would contribute to our pursuit of this goal. For mechanistic understanding of lotic community dynamics, we need more information on: 1. Physical conditions impinging on lotic biota, measured on temporal and spatial scales relevant to the organisms. 2. Responses of lotic biota to discharge fluctuations, including the processes that mediate community recovery following resets caused by spates or droughts. 3. Movements of lotic organisms that mediate gene flow, resource tracking, and multilevel species interactions. 4. Life history patterns, with special emphasis on ontogenetic bottlenecks that determine the vulnerability of populations confronting environmental perturbation. 5. Consequences of species interactions for community- and ecosystem-level processes in rivers and streams. Without attempting to be comprehensive in our review, we discuss limits and limitations of our knowledge in these areas. We also suggest types of data and technological development that would advance our understanding. While we appreciate the value and need for empirical and comparative information, we advocate search for key mechanisms underlying community interactions as the crucial step toward developing general predictions of responses to environmental change. These mechanisms are likely to be complex, and elucidation of interacting bilateral, or multilateral, biotic and abiotic controls will progress only with the continuing synthesis of community- and ecosystem-level approaches in lotic ecology.