Hydrologic spiralling: The role of multiple interactive flow paths in stream ecosystems


Journal Article

We develop and illustrate the concept of 'hydrologic spiralling' using a high-resolution (2 × 2 m grid cell) simulation of hyporheic hydrology across a 1.7 km2 section of the sand, gravel and cobble floodplain aquifer of the upper Umatilla River of northeastern Oregon, USA. We parameterized the model using a continuous map of surface water stage derived from LIDAR remote sensing data. Model results reveal the presence of complex spatial patterns of hyporheic exchange across spatial scales. We use simulation results to describe streams as a collection of hierarchically organized, individual flow paths that spiral across ecotones within streams and knit together stream ecosystems. Such a view underscores the importance of: (1) gross hyporheic exchange rates in rivers, (2) the differing ecological roles of short and long hyporheic flow paths, and (3) the downstream movement of water and solutes outside of the stream channel (e.g. in the alluvial aquifer). Hydrologic spirals underscore important limitations of empirical measures of biotic solute uptake from streams and provide a needed hydrologic framework for emerging research foci in stream ecology such as hydrologic connectivity, spatial and temporal variation in biogeochemical cycling rates and the role of stream geomorphology as a dominant control on stream ecosystem dynamics. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Poole, GC; O'Daniel, SJ; Jones, KL; Woessner, WW; Bernhardt, ES; Helton, AM; Stanford, JA; Boer, BR; Beechie, TJ

Published Date

  • September 1, 2008

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 24 / 7

Start / End Page

  • 1018 - 1031

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1535-1459

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1002/rra.1099

Citation Source

  • Scopus