An Ecosystem’s Lifeblood, Flowing Through Gravel By jim robbins

Article Summary: In their desire to learn more about river ecosystems, Scientists from The University of Montana decided to construct a study on mountains rivers and the role they play in an environment. They realized right away that there is a LOT more to mountain rivers than just water moving through their banks. Not only does water flow down the river channel, but across the entire "flood plain" as well, all the while supporting tons of diverse life. When water flows through the "matrix" of gravel and sand on the bottom of a river, it's cleaned, filtering organic material and freeing up nitrogen and phosphorous embedded in the gravel. These natural fertilizers are spread across the flood plain providing nutrient-rich spots for plants of all kinds to grow. Gravel flood plains are essential to the health of an ecosystem, and as they become endangered at the hands of climate change, the life of our environments are threatened.

Water runs much wider than its barriers let on...

Analysis: The knowledge that has been presented in this article is crucial for the health of the natural world. We see another devastating effect that results from climate change, and one that people would never even think of to be so impactful. It's important to know how actions like damming, plowing, and urbanization can hinder "renewal" of rivers because it will hopefully urge people to stop making these decisions. To start, people should not be damming rivers because they run a specific way, and when that way is altered, the whole river is thrown off. Also, farmers should have to find less invasive ways to plow – ones that don't clog up rivers. Lastly, people should just not develop subdivisions and live in homes and buildings that are already built.

Mountain rivers are truly an amazing sight to behold...

My big takeaway: This article stuck out to me because of the entrancing photo in the thumbnail, then it pulled me in even further when I learned that the research was done by University of Montana professors in Missoula – a city close to Whitefish, Montana where I lived last winter. I hope that we can find more ways that humans are disrupting mountain rivers so that the rivers run at maximum efficiency and nutrients continue to get recycled.

Created By
Henry Alimanestianu
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Created with images by skeeze - "stream wilderness water" • Kiwi Tom - "Stormy valley"

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