Research in Artificial Streams: Applications, Uses, and Abuses

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algal-nutrient-grazer interactions, macroinvertebrate growth, disturbance, fish ecology, ecotoxicology, hydrodynamics, longitudinal linkages, small- and large-scale streams, historical perspectives, artificial streams


Increased use of artificial streams in aquatic research over the last 20 years has not been accompanied by a systematic, critical analysis of their advantages and disadvantages. A symposium held at the 1992 annual meeting of the North American Benthological Society in Louisville, Kentucky, attempted specifically to provide this information. We define an artificial stream as any constructed channel that has a controlled flow of water and that is used to study a physical, chemical, or biological property of natural streams. The following aspects of artificial streams were covered in the symposium: historical perspectives, hydrodynamics, algal-nutrient dynamics, macroinvertebrate growth, grazer-algal interactions, fish ecology, disturbance, ecotoxicology, small- and largescale artificial streams, and longitudinal linkages. Although the symposium addressed a wide variety of subjects, each contribution was linked by a common desire to ascertain the strengths and weaknesses of artificial streams relative to that subject. Major conclusions that emerged from the symposium include: (1) there is no single best design for artificial streams; appropriate stream design is contingent on the question being asked; (2) research geared to mechanistic understanding of lotic processes is particularly well-suited for artificial streams; and (3) generation of testable hypotheses, which can then be validated in natural stream ecosystems, is a useful application of research in artificial streams.

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Journal of North American Benthological Society





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