Global patterns of allochthony in stream–riparian meta-ecosystems

Ecology Letters
By: , and 



Ecosystems that are coupled by reciprocal flows of energy and nutrient subsidies can be viewed as a single “meta-ecosystem.” Despite these connections, the reciprocal flow of subsidies is greatly asymmetrical and seasonally pulsed. Here, we synthesize existing literature on stream–riparian meta-ecosystems to quantify global patterns of the amount of subsidy consumption by organisms, known as “allochthony.” These resource flows are important since they can comprise a large portion of consumer diets, but can be disrupted by human modification of streams and riparian zones. Despite asymmetrical subsidy flows, we found stream and riparian consumer allochthony to be equivalent. Although both fish and stream invertebrates rely on seasonally pulsed allochthonous resources, we find allochthony varies seasonally only for fish, being nearly three times greater during the summer and fall than during the winter and spring. We also find that consumer allochthony varies with feeding traits for aquatic invertebrates, fish, and terrestrial arthropods, but not for terrestrial vertebrates. Finally, we find that allochthony varies by climate for aquatic invertebrates, being nearly twice as great in arid climates than in tropical climates, but not for fish. These findings are critical to understanding the consequences of global change, as ecosystem connections are being increasingly disrupted.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Global patterns of allochthony in stream–riparian meta-ecosystems
Series title Ecology Letters
DOI 10.1111/ele.14401
Volume 27
Issue 3
Year Published 2024
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center
Description e14401, 13 p.
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