Ecology

Healthy rivers need diversity, too

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Science  30 Jan 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6221, pp. 516
DOI: 10.1126/science.347.6221.516-a

The Fraser River in British Columbia, Canada

PHOTO: © MACDONALD_NATURE/ALAMY

Savvy financial investors know that a diverse portfolio generates stability due to a balance of ups and downs across investments. A similar hypothesis posits that larger river systems offer similar stability to their ecosystems. Moore et al. tested this hypothesis in one of the few remaining free-flowing river systems in North America, the Fraser River watershed. They found that larger watersheds were more stable in terms of water temperature and flow, and produced salmon more consistently. This shows that greater biological diversity can buffer ecosystems against environmental variability and may enhance long-term stability.

Ecol. Soc. Am. 10.1890/14-0326.1 (2014).

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