Integrating field data and a meta-ecosystem model to study the effects of multiple terrestrial disturbances on small stream ecosystem function

Adams, Hannah (2023) Integrating field data and a meta-ecosystem model to study the effects of multiple terrestrial disturbances on small stream ecosystem function. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Environmental stressors such as land development and climate change are key drivers of biodiversity loss. These stressors operate across a range of spatial and temporal scales and can propagate throughout the landscape. Meta-ecosystem theory can be used to develop models that represent these important cross-ecosystem interactions; however, these models are rarely applied to real ecosystems. We derived a meta-ecosystem model based on empirical data from the island of Newfoundland, Canada to predict how terrestrial disturbances (i.e., forestry, insect outbreaks, roads) will impact the functioning of small streams. Top statistical models for our empirical data showed that benthic invertebrate biomass increased with road density in the stream catchment as did erosion indicators (i.e., specific conductivity), while forest disturbance reduced the proportion of shredders in the benthic invertebrate community. We used disturbance simulations in the meta-ecosystem model to untangle mechanisms for how individual terrestrial disturbances were affecting these stream ecosystems: 1) apparent competition between benthic invertebrates and periphyton and 2) energy flux to higher trophic levels. Along with improving our mechanistic understanding of riparian-stream ecosystems, our integration of empirical data and mathematical modelling creates a framework for using meta-ecosystem models to make informed decisions about natural resource management and conservation.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 16286
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references
Keywords: meta-ecosystem, ecosystem modelling, aquatic ecology, logging insect outbreaks
Department(s): Science, Faculty of > Biology
Date: September 2023
Date Type: Submission
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Biotic communities--Newfoundland and Labrador--Simulation methods; Aquatic ecology--Newfoundland and Labrador; Stream health--Newfoundland and Labrador; Climatic changes--Newfoundland and Labrador; Ecological disturbances--Newfoundland and Labrador

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