Does the river continuum concept apply on a tropical island? Longitudinal variation in a Puerto Rican stream

Greathouse,Effie A.; Pringle, Catherine M. 2006. Does the river continuum concept apply on a tropical island? Longitudinal variation in a Puerto Rican stream.. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 63: 134-152.

We examined whether a tropical stream in Puerto Rico matched predictions of the river continuum concept (RCC) for macroinvertebrate functional feeding groups (FFGs). Sampling sites for macroinvertebrates, basal resources, and fishes ranged from headwaters to within 2.5 km of the fourth-order estuary. In a comparison with a model temperate system in which RCC predictions generally held, we used catchment area as a measure of stream size to examine truncated RCC predictions (i.e., cut off to correspond to the largest stream size sampled in Puerto Rico). Despite dominance of generalist freshwater shrimps, which use more than one feeding mode, RCC predictions held for scrapers, shredders, and predators. Collector–filterers showed a trend opposite to that predicted by the RCC, but patterns in basal resources suggest that this is consistent with the central RCC theme: longitudinal distributions of FFGs follow longitudinal patterns in basal resources. Alternatively, the filterer pattern may be explained by fish predation affecting distributions of filter-feeding shrimp. Our results indicate that the RCC generally applies to running waters on tropical islands. However, additional theoretical and field studies across a broad array of stream types should examine whether the RCC needs to be refined to reflect the potential influence of top-down trophic controls on FFG distributions.


Anderson EP, Freeman MC, Pringle CM. 2006a. Ecological consequences of hydropower development in Central America: impacts of small
dams and water diversion on neotropical stream fish assemblages. River Research and Applications 22: 397–411.

Small dams for hydropower have caused widespread alteration of Central American rivers, yet much of recent development has gone undocumented by scientists and conservationists. We examined the ecological effects of a small hydropower plant (Don˜a Julia Hydroelectric Center) on two low-order streams (the Puerto Viejo River and Quebradon stream) draining a mountainous area of Costa Rica. Operation of the Don˜a Julia plant has dewatered these streams, reducing discharge to 10% of average annual flow. This study compared fish assemblage composition and aquatic habitat upstream and downstream of diversion dams on two streams and along a 4 km dewatered reach of the Puerto Viejo River in an attempt to evaluate current instream flow recommendations for regulated Costa Rican streams. Our results indicated that fish assemblages directly upstream and downstream of the dam on the third order Puerto Viejo River were dissimilar, suggesting that the small dam (<15m high) hindered movement of fishes. Along the 4 km dewatered reach of the Puerto Viejo River, species count increased with downstream distance from the dam. However, estimated species richness and overall fish abundance were not significantly correlated with downstream distance from the dam. Our results suggested that effects of stream dewatering may be most pronounced for a subset of species with more complex reproductive requirements, classified as equilibrium-type species based on their life-history. In the absence of changes to current operations, we expect that fish assemblages in the Puerto Viejo River will be increasingly dominated by opportunistic-type, colonizing fish species. Operations of many other small hydropower plants in Costa Rica and other parts of Central America mirror those of Don˜a Julia; the methods and results of this study may be applicable to some of those projects. Copyright # 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Litter Dynamics Along Stream, Riparian and Upslope Areas Following Hurricane Hugo, Luquillo Experimental Forest, Puerto Rico

Litter Dynamics Along Stream, Riparian and Upslope Areas Following Hurricane Hugo, Luquillo Experimental Forest, Puerto Rico
K. A. Vogt, D. J. Vogt, P. Boon, A. Covich, F. N. Scatena, H. Asbjornsen, J. L. O'Harra, J. Perez, T. g. Siccama, J. Bloomfield and J. F. Ranciato
Vol. 28, No. 4, Part A. Special Issue: Long Term Responses of Caribbean Ecosystems to Disturbances (Dec., 1996), pp. 458-470

Litterfall (fine and coarse) due to Hurricane Hugo and subsequent fine annual litterfall inputs (1, 2 and 5 yr after Hugo) were determined for two sites (El Verde and Bisley) in the Luquillo Experimental Forest in Puerto Rico. Litter transfers into streams, riparian and upslope areas were determined within each catchment. The recovery rate of aboveground fine litterfall (leaf, fine wood <1 cm diameter, and other miscellaneous inputs) to predisturbance levels were determined 1, 2, and 5 yr after Hurricane Hugo. The amount of total litter transfers and their individual components into the riparian and upslope areas due to Hurricane Hugo varied significantly by catchments within the Luquillo Experimental Forest. At El Verde, 26-39 percent, 31-35 percent, 14-35 percent and 7-12 percent of the total litter transfers were contributed by leaf litter, fine wood, coarse wood and fine roots, respectively. At Bisley, 28-31 percent, 26-29 percent, 33-35 percent and 8-10 percent of the litter transfers were contributed by the same categories. Differential decay rates contributed to the relative importance of fine and coarse litter inputs. The recovery of fine aboveground litterfall to pre-hurricane levels after 5 yr varied by topographic location (streams had the slowest recovery, upslope areas the highest) and catchment (El Verde: 55-77%; Bisley: 39-82% of pre-hurricane values).

Can uptake length in strams be determined by nutrient addition experiments? Results from an interbiome comparison study

Mulholland, P. J; Tanks, J. L.; Webster, J. R.; Bowden, W. B.; Dodds, W. K; Gregory, S. V.; Grimm, N. B; Meriam, J. L.; Meyer, J. L.; Peterson, B. J.; Valett, H. M.; Wollheim, W. M. 2002. Can uptake length in strams be determined by nutrient addition experiments? Results from an interbiome comparison study. J. N. Am. Bethol. Soc. 2002, 21(4): 544-560.

Nutrient uptake length is an important parnmeter tor quantifying nutrient cycling in streams. Although nutrient tracer additions are the preierred method for measuring uptake length under ambient nutrient concentrations, short-term nutrient addition experiments have more irequently been used to estimate uptake length in streams. Theoretical analysis of the relationship between uptake length determined by nutrient addition experiments (Sw') and uptake length determined by tracer additions (Sw)predicted that Sw' should be consistently longer than 5,", and that the overestimate of uptake length by Sw( should be related to the level of nutrient addition above ambient concentrations and the degree of nutrient limitation. To test these predictions, we used data irom an interbiorne study of NH,- uptake length in which 15NH,- tracer and short-term NH,-a ddition experiments were performed in 10 streams using a uniform experimental approach. The experimental results largely contirmed the theoretical predictions: sw' was consistently longer than Sw and Sw':Sw ratios were directly related to the level of NH,- addition and to indicatvrs of N limitation. The experimentally derived Sw':Sw, ratios were used with the theoretical results to infer the N limitation status of each stream. Together, the theoretical and experimental results showed the tracer experiments should be used whenever possible to determine nutrient uptake length in streams. Nutrient addition experiments may be useful for comparing uptake lengths between different streams or cliiferent times in the same stream. however, provided that nutrient additions are kept as low as possible and of similar miagnitude.
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