Ecological simplification: human influences on riverscape complexity

350 210 Stroud Water Research Center

Peipoch, M., M. Brauns, H. M. Valett, F. R. Hauer, and M. Weitere. 2015. BioScience 65(11):1057.

doi: 10.1093/biosci/biv120


The rationale of most restoration strategies is that with reconstruction of natural habitats comes biodiversity, and ecosystem functioning and services will follow suit. Uncertainty and frequent failure in restoration outcomes, however, are recurrent and likely related to the complexity of ecosystem properties. Here, we propose ecological simplification as the general mechanism by which human impacts have modified cross-scale relationships among landscape complexity, integrity, and niche diversity in ecosystems. To manage and reverse the negative effects of ecological simplification, the interplay between research and management must quantify the large-scale complexity of reference to restore simplified systems and to link these measures to niche diversity quantified at finer scales. Because of their historical interaction with human societies, we use riverine floodplains as model ecosystems to review the causes and consequences of simplification and to discuss how contemporary restoration can minimize the effects of simplification on biodiversity, functioning, and services of riverine floodplains.

Give the Gift of Fresh Water

As you give thanks for the gifts in your life, we invite you to give the gift of water. Clean drinking water, good health, happy trout, productive soil, clean air, the simple joys of swimming, boating, fishing — our healthy freshwater ecosystems make these and so many other things possible.

Your donation today will help preserve and protect
the future of fresh water.