Stream hydrogeomorphology as a physical science basis for advances in stream ecology

by Geoffrey C. Poole
Journal of the North American Benthological Society ()


The disciplines of geomorphology, hydrology, and hydrogeology have had a marked influence on the evolution of systems thinking in stream ecology. The River Continuum Concept was an explicit attempt to “translate the energy equilibrium theory from the physical system of geomorphologists into a biological analog” (Vannote et al. 1980, p. 131). A subsequent view of rivers as corridors evolved from an improved understanding of hydrologic linkages between rivers and their catchments and among channels, alluvial aquifers, and riparian zones/floodplains. More recently, the importance of channel network topology and dynamic, 3-dimensional hydrologic connectivity across fluvial landscapes has been emphasized by stream ecologists. This progression of ecological thinking provides a useful framework for understanding the role of fluvial geomorphology, channel hydrology, and hyporheic hydrology in shaping fundamental concepts of stream ecosystem science. This progression also defines a trajectory for understanding the potential role of the nascent discipline of stream hydrogeomorphology in contributing to an improved understanding of ecological responses to a stream's dynamic physical template. Although grounded in the discipline of stream ecology, J-NABS has contributed substantively to our understanding of interdisciplinary linkages among ecology, geomorphology, hydrology, and hydrogeology and, therefore, is well positioned as an outlet for ecologically based contributions to advances in stream hydrogeomorphology.

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