Special Issue "Ecosystem Functioning in Rivers and Riparian Zones"

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 August 2020.

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Nikolai Friberg
Website
Guest Editor
Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA), Oslo, Norway
Interests: biodiversity; ecology; freshwater ecology; ecological indicators; river restoration; riparian areas

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Rivers and their riparian zones are intimately linked and characterized by an interchange of resources across the land/water ecotone. The gradient environment of riparian zones makes them hotspots for biodiversity, and they contribute significantly to overall diversity at local to global scales. Riparian habitats moderate nutrient inputs, base flows, air/water temperatures, and erosion, as well as inputs of terrestrial litter into stream food webs. Rivers flood riparian zones, delivering sediment and nutrients, making them distinctively different in terms of soils and vegetation to the surrounding terrestrial landscape. Furthermore, aquatic stream insects emerge from the river and move into riparian habitats, where they support a multitude of riparian organisms, such as birds and ground-dwelling invertebrates. Rivers and their riparian habitats provide a range of ecosystem services by, e.g., buffering impacts of hydrological extremes and offering the setting for recreational activities. Rivers and riparian zones are under significant anthropogenic pressure, and the interaction across this ecotone has been lost in many systems. Due to the multifunctionality of riparian zones, conserving and restoring them could have significant implication in improving biodiversity, water quality, and benefits to humans. This Special Issue focuses on functioning of rivers and riparian zones, from understanding the underlying mechanisms and processes to management options, including restoration strategies.

Dr. Nikolai Friberg
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • nutrients
  • food webs
  • terrestrial subsidies
  • ecotones
  • biodiversity
  • flooding
  • restoration
  • ecosystem services

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Assessing the Benefits of Forested Riparian Zones: A Qualitative Index of Riparian Integrity Is Positively Associated with Ecological Status in European Streams
Water 2020, 12(4), 1178; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12041178 - 20 Apr 2020
Abstract
Developing a general, predictive understanding of ecological systems requires knowing how much structural and functional relationships can cross scales and contexts. Here, we introduce the CROSSLINK project that investigates the role of forested riparian buffers in modified European landscapes by measuring a wide [...] Read more.
Developing a general, predictive understanding of ecological systems requires knowing how much structural and functional relationships can cross scales and contexts. Here, we introduce the CROSSLINK project that investigates the role of forested riparian buffers in modified European landscapes by measuring a wide range of ecosystem attributes in stream-riparian networks. CROSSLINK involves replicated field measurements in four case-study basins with varying levels of human development: Norway (Oslo Fjord), Sweden (Lake Mälaren), Belgium (Zwalm River), and Romania (Argeş River). Nested within these case-study basins include multiple, independent stream-site pairs with a forested riparian buffer and unbuffered section located upstream, as well as headwater and downstream sites to show cumulative land-use impacts. CROSSLINK applies existing and bespoke methods to describe habitat conditions, biodiversity, and ecosystem functioning in aquatic and terrestrial habitats. Here, we summarize the approaches used, detail protocols in supplementary materials, and explain how data is applied in an optimization framework to better manage tradeoffs in multifunctional landscapes. We then present results demonstrating the range of riparian conditions present in our case-study basins and how these environmental states influence stream ecological integrity with the commonly used macroinvertebrate Average Score Per Taxon (ASPT) index. We demonstrate that a qualitative index of riparian integrity can be positively associated with stream ecological status. This introduction to the CROSSLINK project shows the potential for our replicated study with its panoply of ecosystem attributes to help guide management decisions regarding the use of forested riparian buffers in human-impacted landscapes. This knowledge is highly relevant in a time of rapid environmental change where freshwater biodiversity is increasingly under pressure from a range of human impacts that include habitat loss, pollution, and climate change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecosystem Functioning in Rivers and Riparian Zones)
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Open AccessArticle
Complex Undisturbed Riparian Zones Are Resistant to Colonisation by Invasive Alien Plant Species
Water 2020, 12(2), 345; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12020345 - 25 Jan 2020
Abstract
We investigated the presence and abundance of invasive alien plant species (IAS) in the riparian zones of rivers in relation to different environmental parameters. We surveyed the spatial and human-influenced characteristics of the riparian zones, river channels, and land use along seven Slovenian [...] Read more.
We investigated the presence and abundance of invasive alien plant species (IAS) in the riparian zones of rivers in relation to different environmental parameters. We surveyed the spatial and human-influenced characteristics of the riparian zones, river channels, and land use along seven Slovenian rivers. We further monitored the presence and abundance of IAS with different natural properties and different human impacts to define the characteristics of non-infected and heavily infected reaches. Special attention was given to different life forms of IAS. The presence and abundance of IAS positively correlated with distance from river source, current velocity, and water depth, and negatively correlated with altitude, naturalness of the land use, width and completeness of the riparian zone, height and structure of its vegetation, and condition of the riverbed and banks. Annuals prevailed among IAS at 48%, with 37% herbaceous perennials and 15% woody species. The vine Echinocystis lobata was the most abundant IAS, which was found in 179 out of the 414 river reaches analysed, followed by the annual Impatiens glandulifera and the herbaceous perennial Solidago gigantea. E. lobata was spread over the native riparian vegetation and was affected by the natural gradients of the rivers in terms of altitude and distance from the river’s source. Reaches without IAS significantly differed from reaches colonised with IAS in the width of riparian zone, vegetation height and structure, land-use next to the river, and distance from the source. As IAS in riparian zones affect riparian and aquatic communities, there is the need for management practices to maintain and establish complex riparian zones that are resistant to IAS colonisation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecosystem Functioning in Rivers and Riparian Zones)
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Open AccessArticle
Invasive Alien Vines Affect Leaf Traits of Riparian Woody Vegetation
Water 2019, 11(11), 2395; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11112395 - 15 Nov 2019
Abstract
The vines Echinocystis lobata and Parthenocissus quinquefolia are spreading over the natural vegetation in riparian zones, which may significantly affect riparian vegetation properties and the quality of litter for aquatic organisms. We examined leaf morphological, biochemical and optical traits of these invasive alien [...] Read more.
The vines Echinocystis lobata and Parthenocissus quinquefolia are spreading over the natural vegetation in riparian zones, which may significantly affect riparian vegetation properties and the quality of litter for aquatic organisms. We examined leaf morphological, biochemical and optical traits of these invasive alien species, each paired with its host, the willows Salix caprea and S. fragilis, respectively. The vines altered the host radiation environment and the amount of photosynthetic pigments. Both vines had significantly higher specific leaf area and lower leaf tissue density compared to the willows, even though the leaves of P. quinquefolia were significantly thicker. Leaf optical properties varied significantly between vines and willows in some spectral regions. Compared to the willows, the vines reflected less light as UV, and more as green, and transmitted more light as green, yellow and red. The overgrowth of the willows with vines affected the reflectance of the willow leaves. Redundancy analysis of the relationships between leaf biochemical traits and reflectance spectra showed that chlorophyll a, anthocyanins, and UVB- and UVA-absorbing substances explained 45% of the reflectance spectra variability, while analysis with morphological traits revealed that specific leaf area, leaf thickness and upper cuticle thickness explained 43%. For leaf transmittance, UVB- and UVA-absorbing substances, carotenoids and anthocyanins explained 53% of the transmittance spectra variability, while analysis with morphological traits revealed that specific leaf area explained 51%. These data show that invasive alien vines can be discerned from each other and their hosts by their spectral signatures. In addition, the differences in the leaf functional traits between the vines and their hosts indicate significant differences in the quality of the plant litter entering the river. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecosystem Functioning in Rivers and Riparian Zones)
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