Ecosystem metabolism in tropical streams and rivers: a review and synthesis

Journal Article (Review;Journal)

Ecosystem metabolism of freshwater ecosystems has been studied for several decades, with theory and synthesis largely derived from temperate streams and rivers in North America and Europe. Advances in sensor technology and modeling have opened a wider range of streams to be included to test theories beyond temperate streams. In this paper, we review and synthesize ecosystem metabolism data from tropical streams and rivers to determine to what extent the constraints of metabolism measured in temperate streams are similar in tropical streams. We compiled 202 measurements of gross primary productivity (GPP) and ecosystem respiration (ER) from 83 tropical streams spanning 22.2°S to 18.4°N. Overall, tropical streams were heterotrophic (ER > GPP), with GPP ranging from 0.01 to 11.7 g O2 m−2 d−1 and ER ranging from −0.2 to −42.1 g O2 m−2 d−1, similar on average to rates reviewed from temperate streams, but with higher maximum ER in tropical streams. Gross primary productivity increased with watershed area; a result also observed in temperate streams. ER decreased with elevated phosphorus and higher annual rainfall. We constructed a structural equation model that explained greater variation of ER (74%) than GPP (26%), and reflects similar drivers, such as land-use and watershed area, as in temperate streams. We conclude that tropical stream ecosystem metabolism has similar drivers as temperate streams, and a warmer and wetter climate and human use of tropical lands will influence metabolic rates in streams.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Marzolf, NS; Ardón, M

Published Date

  • May 1, 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 66 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 1627 - 1638

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1939-5590

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1002/lno.11707

Citation Source

  • Scopus