Concepts and methods for assessing solute dynamics in stream ecosystems

350 210 Stroud Water Research Center

Stream Solute Workshop. 1990. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 9(2):95–119.

doi: 10.2307/1467445


A stream solute workshop was held February 1-5, 1989, at The University of Mississippi with the goals of 1) suggesting a conceptual model for stream solute studies that integrates physical, chemical, and biological processes, and 2) identifying advantages and limitations of various methods for studying solute transport and exchanges. Solute dynamics refers to the spatial and temporal patterns of transport and transfers of materials that are chemically dissolved in water. Solute transport and exchange processes can be described by solute transport equations that relate solute concentration to advection, dispersion, groundwater and tributary inputs, transient storage zones, and biotic and abiotic transformations. Studies can be based on these model equations even if a full simulation of a particular system is not attempted. Although no common methodological approach can serve every investigation of solute dynamics, experimental approaches represent a range from greatest control and least realism to least control and greatest realism. The model parameters describe processes that can be investigated in laboratory, chamber, and flume experiments designed to reduce confounding experimental variables. Whole-stream studies, particularly solute injection experiments, provide estimates of solute transfer to and from the water column and can be used to calibrate the simulation models. Transport and transfer models can link experimental results obtained at different scales and increase the opportunity for inter-site comparisons and the extrapolation of results between laboratory, chamber, flume, and whole-stream studies.