Multiple structural modifications to dendritic ecological networks produce simple responses

Mark Padgham, J Webb

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    30 Citations (Scopus)


    Structural modifications to landscapes affect the ability of organisms to access different habitat patches. There exist, however, very few general methods by which to relate modifications to expectations of effects, and even fewer that enable understanding of how multiple modifications may interact. In the absence of any guiding principles, ecologists have assumed that interactions will result in complex landscape-scale effects. One way of understanding such effects is through rendering a landscape as a graph or network, among the simplest of which are dendritic networks typified by stream systems. Yet even for stream networks, there are no known general principles concerning the nature of interactions between multiple modifications. We developed a model to describe the ability of fish to access and use different habitat patches within dendritic networks. We used mathematical and numerical analyses of the model to investigate how the habitat value of a network is affected by changes in connectivity and habitat quality, and then to examine interactions between multiple modifications. Rather than showing complex interactions, our analytic and simulation-based results show that the combined effect of multiple modifications approximately equals the sum of individually predicted effects. Dendritic networks thus appear to respond far more simply to multiple modifications than has previously been assumed. These results have implications for stream management planning, and offer a firm foundation from which to better understand population processes within dendritic networks. (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2537 - 2545
    Number of pages9
    JournalEcological Modelling
    Issue number21
    Publication statusPublished - 2010

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