Ecology

Reciprocal Subsidies

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Science  19 Jan 2001:
Vol. 291, Issue 5503, pp. 399-401
DOI: 10.1126/science.291.5503.399e

Traditionally, terrestrial and aquatic ecologists have concentrated on the complexities of interactions within their own realms, rather than between them. However, the flow of matter and energy between terrestrial and aquatic habitats may be substantial, as documented by Nakano and Murakami in a study of a riparian forest environment in Hokkaido, Japan. They recorded fluxes of invertebrates between forests and streams; these fluxes accounted for 25–44% of the annual energy budgets of their vertebrate predators (birds and fishes, respectively). Flow of invertebrate prey from water to land was greater in spring, while the flow from land to water was greater in summer. The staggered timing of these “reciprocal subsidies” indicates a hitherto unsuspected level of interdependence between the two habitats. Human alteration of stream and river banks, which occurs extensively worldwide, might therefore have serious consequences for reciprocal energy exchange between terrestrial and aquatic habitats, possibly leading to depressions of biodiversity and productivity. — AMS

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A.98, 166 (2001).

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