Advances in Understanding Landscape Influences on Freshwater Habitats and Biological Assemblages

Advances in Understanding Landscape Influences on Freshwater Habitats and Biological Assemblages: Introduction

Robert M. Hughes, Dana M. Infante, Lizhu Wang, Kai Chen, and Bianca de Freitas Terra


Previously, Hughes et al. (2006) synthesized the state of knowledge related to influences of landscapes on river ecosystems. That volume, containing contributions from 77 authors, highlighted challenges encountered when measuring and linking landscapes with river habitats, described approaches for resolving those challenges, and identified major knowledge gaps to direct future research. In addition, Johnson and Host (2010) provided a timeline from the 1970s to 2008 to generalize the significant contributions of the landscape approach to aquatic studies, summarized landscape approaches used in studying freshwater ecosystems, and synthesized the literature regarding studies of freshwater ecosystems conducted at or above the catchment extent. Those reviews have been invaluable in describing the usefulness of the landscape approach, including improving our understanding of how landscape factors influence freshwater habitats and biological assemblages, supporting science-based landscape-aquatic management, and informing policy to conserve freshwater ecosystems. Because of these benefits, the landscape approach has continued to be tested and applied in multiple contexts. As a result, our knowledge in understanding, measuring, and predicting how characteristics of freshwater habitats and biological assemblages are influenced by landscapes has advanced rapidly. Hence, there is a need to synthesize current understanding of landscape influences on freshwaters and identify new challenges and knowledge gaps to direct future research and its application in freshwater resource management and conservation.