Riverine macrosystems are described here as watershed-scale networks of connected and interacting riverine and upland habitat patches. Such systems are driven by variable responses of nutrients and organisms to a suite of global and regional factors (eg climate, human social systems) interacting with finer-scale variations in geology, topography, and human modifications. We hypothesize that spatial heterogeneity, connectivity, and asynchrony among these patches regulate ecological dynamics of whole networks, altering system sensitivity, resistance, and resilience. Long-distance connections between patches may be particularly important in riverine macrosystems, shaping fundamental system properties. Furthermore, the type, extent, intensity, and spatial configuration of human activities (eg land-use change, dam construction) influence watershed-wide ecological properties through effects on habitat heterogeneity and connectivity at multiple scales. Thus, riverine macrosystems are coupled social–ecological systems with feedbacks that influence system responses to environmental change and the sustainable delivery of ecosystem services.
McCluney, Kevin E.; Poff, N LeRoy; Palmer, Margaret A.; Thorp, James H.; Poole, Geoffrey C.; Williams, Bradley S.; Williams, Michael R.; and Baron, Jill S., "Riverine macrosystems ecology: sensitivity, resistance, and resilience of whole river basins with human alterations" (2014). Biological Sciences Faculty Publications. 71.
Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Ecological Society of America