Riverine macrosystems ecology: Sensitivity, resistance, and resilience of whole river basins with human alterations

K.E. McCluney, LeRoy POFF, M.A. Palmer, J.H. Thorp, G.C. Poole, B.S. Williams, M.R. Williams, J.S. Baron

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    148 Citations (Scopus)


    Riverine macrosystems are described here as watershed-scale networks of connected and interacting riverine and upland habitat patches. Such systems are driven by variable responses of nutrients and organisms to a suite of global and regional factors (eg climate, human social systems) interacting with finer-scale variations in geo-logy, topography, and human modifications. We hypothesize that spatial heterogeneity, connectivity, and asynchrony among these patches regulate ecological dynamics of whole networks, altering system sensitivity, resistance, and resilience. Long-distance connections between patches may be particularly important in riverine macrosystems, shaping fundamental system properties. Furthermore, the type, extent, intensity, and spatial configuration of human activities (eg land-use change, dam construction) influence watershed-wide ecological properties through effects on habitat heterogeneity and connectivity at multiple scales. Thus, riverine macrosystems are coupled social–ecological systems with feedbacks that influence system responses to environ-
    mental change and the sustainable delivery of ecosystem services.
    Original languageUndefined
    Pages (from-to)48-58
    Number of pages11
    JournalFrontiers in Ecology and the Environment
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

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