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Jacobson, P.J. and Jacobson, K.M. 2013. Hydrologic controls of physical and ecological processes in Namib Desert ephemeral rivers: Implications for conservation and Management. Journal of Arid Environments, 93: 80–93


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Hydrologic controls of physical and ecological processes in Namib Desert ephemeral rivers: Implications for conservation and Management.

Summary / Notes:

Ephemeral rivers have been largely excluded from previous attempts to classify global hydrologic regimes, or to assess the role of hydrologic characteristics in regulating ecological processes and patterns in fluvial ecosystems. The Namib Desert's ephemeral rivers are amongst the most hydrologically variable fluvial systems yet described. The coefficient of variation for mean annual runoff (CVMAR) among 28 stations, representing 7 Namib rivers, averages 1.55, compared with a global mean of ∼0.45. Distinct curvilinear relationships exist among hydrologic characters and longitudinal position along the rivers. In particular, peak discharge, annual flow volume, and days of flow per annum exhibit a marked decline in the lower reaches of the rivers, after a mid-catchment peak. These longitudinal gradients exert strong controls over the composition of vegetation, invertebrate, and fungal communities; the availability and structure of various micro-habitats; and the rates of ecological processes such as decomposition. Flood pulses, although variable in their timing and magnitude, play a critical role in regulating organic matter transport and deposition, and primary and secondary production. Despite the tolerance of the biota to harsh and variable abiotic conditions, these ecosystems are highly sensitive to hydrologic alterations as water is acutely limiting for many organisms and ecological processes. Accordingly, alterations to flow regimes can quickly degrade ecological integrity. Managers must seek to maintain existing hydrologic regimes, a challenge amplified by increasing human water demand and changing regional climates. Keywords: Africa, Faidherbia, Floods, Hydrology, Riparian.

Year: 2013

Type: Journal Article

URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140196312000420

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