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Beyond cool: adapting upland streams for climate change using riparian woodlands

Thomas, Stephen M., Griffiths, Sian Wyn and Ormerod, Stephen James 2015. Beyond cool: adapting upland streams for climate change using riparian woodlands. Global Change Biology 22 (1) , pp. 310-324. 10.1111/gcb.13103

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Abstract

Managed adaptation could reduce the risks of climate change to the world's ecosystems, but there have been surprisingly few practical evaluations of the options available. For example, riparian woodland is advocated widely as shade to reduce warming in temperate streams, but few studies have considered collateral effects on species composition or ecosystem functions. Here, we use cross-sectional analyses at two scales (region and within streams) to investigate whether four types of riparian management, including those proposed to reduce potential climate change impacts, might also affect the composition, functional character, dynamics and energetic resourcing of macroinvertebrates in upland Welsh streams (UK). Riparian land use across the region had only small effects on invertebrate taxonomic composition, while stable isotope data showed how energetic resources assimilated by macroinvertebrates in all functional guilds were split roughly 50:50 between terrestrial and aquatic origins irrespective of riparian management. Nevertheless, streams draining the most extensive deciduous woodland had the greatest stocks of coarse particulate matter (CPOM) and greater numbers of ‘shredding’ detritivores. Stream-scale investigations showed that macroinvertebrate biomass in deciduous woodland streams was around twice that in moorland streams, and lowest of all in streams draining non-native conifers. The unexpected absence of contrasting terrestrial signals in the isotopic data implies that factors other than local land use affect the relative incorporation of allochthonous subsidies into riverine food webs. Nevertheless, our results reveal how planting deciduous riparian trees along temperate headwaters as an adaptation to climate change can modify macroinvertebrate function, increase biomass and potentially enhance resilience by increasing basal resources where cover is extensive (>60 m riparian width). We advocate greater urgency in efforts to understand the ecosystem consequences of climate change adaptation to guide future actions.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Water Research Institute (WATER)
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Additional Information: First published: 18 November 2015
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN: 1354-1013
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Date of Acceptance: 21 August 2015
Last Modified: 03 Jul 2019 09:43
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/86664

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