Hydrological connectivity in intermittent rivers and ephemeral streams

Andrew Boulton, Robert ROLLS, Kris Jaeger, Thibault Datry

Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookChapterpeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


In intermittent rivers and ephemeral streams (hereafter, IRES), hydrological connectivity mediated by either flowing or nonflowing water extends along three spatial dimensions-longitudinal, lateral, and vertical-and varies over time. Flow intermittence disrupts this connectivity, operating through complex hydrological transitions (e.g., between flowing and nonflowing phases). These transitions occur concurrently and interact along all three spatial dimensions, primarily driven by flow regime and catchment geomorphology, modified by human activities. Longitudinally, streamflow cessation and drying interrupt hydrological connectivity, contributing to physicochemical patchiness, habitat isolation, and fragmentation of metapopulations and metacommunities. Laterally, hydrological connectivity established during overbank flows is lost when water levels fall, reducing water-mediated transfers of energy, materials, and organisms from the floodplain and riparian zone. Vertically, flow cessation impairs exchange of surface and shallow groundwater, severely altering hydrological, chemical, and microbial gradients within the sediments. Concurrent interactions and physical discontinuities in hydrological connectivity along these three dimensions produce complex mosaics of physicochemical patches at different scales whose boundaries fluctuate over time in response to the flow regime. This complex patchiness underpins the characteristic physical, chemical, and biological diversity at multiple scales along longitudinal, lateral, and vertical hydrological dimensions in IRES.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIntermittent Rivers and Ephemeral Streams
Subtitle of host publicationEcology and Management
EditorsThibault Datry, Nuria Bonada, Andrew Boulton
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages30
ISBN (Electronic)9780128039045
ISBN (Print)9780128038352
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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