Modelling food-web mediated effects of hydrological variability and environmental flows

Robson, Barbara J., Lester, Rebecca E., Baldwin, Darren S., Bond, Nicholas R., Drouart, Romain, Rolls, Robert J., Ryder, Darren S., and Thompson, Ross M. (2017) Modelling food-web mediated effects of hydrological variability and environmental flows. Water Research, 124. pp. 108-128.

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Abstract

Environmental flows are designed to enhance aquatic ecosystems through a variety of mechanisms; however, to date most attention has been paid to the effects on habitat quality and life-history triggers, especially for fish and vegetation. The effects of environmental flows on food webs have so far received little attention, despite food-web thinking being fundamental to understanding of river ecosystems. Understanding environmental flows in a food-web context can help scientists and policy-makers better understand and manage outcomes of flow alteration and restoration. In this paper, we consider mechanisms by which flow variability can influence and alter food webs, and place these within a conceptual and numerical modelling framework. We also review the strengths and weaknesses of various approaches to modelling the effects of hydrological management on food webs. Although classic bioenergetic models such as Ecopath with Ecosim capture many of the key features required, other approaches, such as biogeochemical ecosystem modelling, end-to-end modelling, population dynamic models, individual-based models, graph theory models, and stock assessment models are also relevant. In many cases, a combination of approaches will be useful. We identify current challenges and new directions in modelling food-web responses to hydrological variability and environmental flow management. These include better integration of food-web and hydraulic models, taking physiologically based approaches to food quality effects, and better representation of variations in space and time that may create ecosystem control points.

Item ID: 58059
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1879-2448
Keywords: Prediction, Ecosystems, Adaptive river management, Food webs, Ecohydrology
Funders: Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: DEWHA M/BUS/465, ARC FT110100957
Date Deposited: 17 Apr 2019 09:22
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050102 Ecosystem Function @ 30%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050209 Natural Resource Management @ 30%
09 ENGINEERING > 0907 Environmental Engineering > 090702 Environmental Engineering Modelling @ 40%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960506 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Fresh, Ground and Surface Water Environments @ 100%
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