Journal Article

The Multitrophic Effects of Climate Change and Glacier Retreat in Mountain Rivers

Sarah C. Fell, Jonathan L. Carrivick and Lee E. Brown

in BioScience

Published on behalf of American Institute of Biological Sciences

Volume 67, issue 10, pages 897-911
Published in print October 2017 | ISSN: 0006-3568
Published online September 2017 | e-ISSN: 1525-3244 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/biosci/bix107
The Multitrophic Effects of Climate Change and Glacier Retreat in Mountain Rivers

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Abstract

Climate change is driving the thinning and retreat of many glaciers globally. Reductions of ice-melt inputs to mountain rivers are changing their physicochemical characteristics and, in turn, aquatic communities. Glacier-fed rivers can serve as model systems for investigations of climate-change effects on ecosystems because of their strong atmospheric–cryospheric links, high biodiversity of multiple taxonomic groups, and significant conservation interest concerning endemic species. From a synthesis of existing knowledge, we develop a new conceptual understanding of how reducing glacier cover affects organisms spanning multiple trophic groups. Although the response of macroinvertebrates to glacier retreat has been well described, we show that there remains a relative paucity of information for biofilm, microinvertebrate, and vertebrate taxa. Enhanced understanding of whole river food webs will improve the prediction of river-ecosystem responses to deglaciation while offering the potential to identify and protect a wider range of sensitive and threatened species.

Keywords: river ecosystem; food web; ecological network; alpine; biotic response

Journal Article.  8721 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental Science ; Biological Sciences ; Environment

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