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Streams and Rivers

Streams include many parts headwater, base level, and tributary.

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Stream Ecology

Stream Ecology

Credit: inajeep
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/92804037@N00/2067678
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Life forms and their interactions with each other and their environment make up ecology. Since water is so essential to life, stream ecology is an important topic of study.

Why It Matters

  • The ecological health and water quality of streams is important in all sorts of decisions, from land management to natural resources.
  • Samples taken in the same way across the country can be used to make a picture of the state of streams.
  • Many factors influence stream ecology such as light, chemistry, water flow, and temperature.
  • Credit: Guenter Wieschendahl
    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Overlander_Falls.JPG
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    The strength and amount of water flow can influence the ecology. [Figure2]


  • Water samples are analyzed for nutrients, pesticides, temperature and other indicators of human impact. Organisms are studied for impact as well.

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With the link below, learn more about stream ecology. Then answer the following questions.

  1. What do the scientists mean when they say that they need to know what the benchmark is so that they can study the streams? What is the benchmark?
  2. How and why do biologists use different types of organisms to study a stream? What impacts are studied using biological organisms?
  3. When there are impacts of things like water pollution on the stream biota, what do the biologists see?
  4. Why are organisms often a better indicator of conditions than analyses done with equipment on samples?
  5. What do the scientists hope this information will be used for in stream management?

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Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: inajeep; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/92804037@N00/2067678; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: Guenter Wieschendahl; Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Overlander_Falls.JPG; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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