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Ecosystem engineers in rivers: An introduction to how and where organisms create positive biogeomorphic feedbacks
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences. Ecology & Biodiversity Group and Plant Ecophysiology Group, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands.
2018 (English)In: WIREs Water, ISSN 0935-879X, E-ISSN 2049-1948, Vol. 5, no 2, article id e1271Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Ecosystem engineers substantially alter physical flow characteristics and shape a river's form and function. Because the recurrence interval of geomorphic processes and disturbances in rivers commonly match the temporal scale of plants' life cycles or alterations by animals, the resulting feedbacks are an important component of rivers. In this review, we focus on biota that directly or indirectly induce a physical change in rivers and cause positive feedbacks on the functioning of that organism. We provide an overview of how various ecosystem engineers affect rivers at different temporal and spatial scales and plot them on a conceptual gradient of river types. Various plants engineer the river environment through stabilizing sediment and reducing flow velocities, including macrophytes, woody plants, and algal mats and biofilms. Among animals that engineer, beaver that build dams cause substantial changes to river dynamics. In addition, benthic macroinvertebrates and mussels can stabilize sediment and reduce velocities, and aquatic and riparian grazers modulate the effect of plants. Humans are also considered river ecosystem engineers. Most of the ecosystem engineers reported in literature occur in rivers with low to intermediate relative stability, intermediate channel widths, and small to intermediate grain sizes. Ecosystem engineers that create positive biogeomorphic feedbacks are important to take into account when managing river systems, as many common invasive species are successful due to their engineering capabilities. River restoration can use ecosystem engineers to spur holistic recovery. Future research points towards examining ecosystem engineers on longer spatial and temporal scales and understanding the co-evolution of organisms and landforms through engineering. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
John Wiley & Sons, 2018. Vol. 5, no 2, article id e1271
National Category
Ecology
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URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-146155DOI: 10.1002/wat2.1271ISI: 000425438800007OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-146155DiVA, id: diva2:1203374
Available from: 2018-05-03 Created: 2018-05-03 Last updated: 2018-06-09Bibliographically approved

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Polvi, Lina E.Sarneel, Judith M.

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