2008WR007124 - Click Here WATER RESOURCES RESEARCH, VOL....

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River networks as ecological corridors: A complex systems perspective for integrating hydrologic, geomorphologic, and ecologic dynamics Ignacio Rodriguez-Iturbe, 1 Rachata Muneepeerakul, 1 Enrico Bertuzzo, 2 Simon A. Levin, 3 and Andrea Rinaldo 2,4 Received 28 April 2008; revised 1 October 2008; accepted 24 October 2008; published 16 January 2009. [ 1 ] This paper synthesizes recent works at the interface of hydrology, geomorphology, and ecology under an integrated framework of analysis with an aim for a general theory. It addresses a wide range of related topics, including biodiversity of freshwater fish in river networks and vegetation along riparian systems, how river networks affected historic spreading of human populations, and how they influence the spreading of water-borne diseases. Given the commonalities among various dendritic structures and despite the variety and complexity of the ecosystems involved, we present here an integrated line of research addressing the above and related topics through a unique, coherent ecohydrological thread and similar mathematical methods. Metacommunity and individual-based models are studied in the context of hydrochory, population, and species migrations and the spreading of infections of water-borne diseases along the ecological corridors of river basins. A general theory emerges on the effects of dendritic geometries on the ecological processes and dynamics operating on river basins that will establish a new significant scientific branch. Insights provided by such a theory will lend themselves to issues of great practical importance such as integration of riparian systems into large-scale resource management, spatial strategies to minimize loss of freshwater biodiversity, and effective prevention campaigns against water-borne diseases. Citation: Rodriguez-Iturbe, I., R. Muneepeerakul, E. Bertuzzo, S. A. Levin, and A. Rinaldo (2009), River networks as ecological corridors: A complex systems perspective for integrating hydrologic, geomorphologic, and ecologic dynamics, Water Resour. Res. , 45 , W01413, doi:10.1029/2008WR007124. 1. Introduction and Objectives [ 2 ] Natural systems, despite their seemingly infinite va- riety, are built around a surprisingly few general structural types, and dendritic structure, or tree-like branching, is one of them. Indeed, there is a plethora of dendritic structures of great importance in nature, examples of which include human pulmonary systems, plants and many more. The dendritic structure that is the central theme of this paper concerns drainage networks in river basins. They are both practically important and theoretically challenging, and lessons learned from them have implications for dynamical systems taking place in other dendritic structures in nature. [ 3 ] It is clear that river networks provide supporting landscapes for many processes essential to human life and societies. Historical human settlements followed the river networks for the necessary water resources [ Ammermann and Cavalli-Sforza , 1984]. The river networks provide hierarchical habitat features for freshwater fish [e.g.,
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2008WR007124 - Click Here WATER RESOURCES RESEARCH, VOL....

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