EcoFlowS is a research team exploring the ecohydrology of rivers of the Anthropocene at different spatial and temporal scales: from the local to the river basin and from short to long-term.
EcoFlowS covers a wide range of flowing waters, from large rivers such as the Rhône and Loire Rivers, lowland rivers such as the Saône, braided rivers such as the Drôme, alpine/glacial rivers such as the Arvan to intermittent rivers and ephemeral streams such as the Albarine. As much as possible, our work target ecohydrological models that are general and transferable across systems, climates and conditions, and have quantified uncertainties. Broadly, our work cover 2 main research themes.
Habitat ecohydrological modelling
EcoFlowS research focuses on describing, quantifying and modelling the physical habitats of invertebrates and fish in flowing waters, from the microhabitat to reach and catchment scales. Through an ecohydrological perspective, this includes hydrological, hydraulic, geomorphological and physico-chemical (e.g., temperature, dissolved oxygen) features of organism’s habitats both from the surface and hyporheic zones.
We research general models of ecological responses to these habitat characteristics, and transfer them for guiding management (eg hydropeaking), restoration (eg e-flows) and conservation (eg habitat protection) efforts, and for predicting the ecological effects of global changes. Our research also explores at the catchment-scale the climatic and environmental contexts as well as anthropogenic stressors (or their proxies such as nutrients and other pollutant fluxes and concentrations) and climate change, that generate local alterations of in-stream habitats, such as clogging, heating, drying, hypoxia.
Connectivity, fragmentation and organism dispersal
Following the development of the metasystem paradigm in ecology, EcoFlowS research increasingly explores the ecohydrological patterns and processes at large spatial scales where hydrological connectivity and associated organism movements in the landscape become essential to understand the distribution of communities. This includes both a quantification of connectivity at the catchment scale, for example accounting for fragmentation by anthropogenic and natural barriers (eg dams and weirs, drying, water sources, temperature, waterfalls) and a quantification of organism movements (dispersal) across the landscape. For the latter, tagging, isotopes and molecular tools are increasingly used and novel sampling strategies are being developed.
These two main research themes are supported by three main approaches
Statistical and physical-based distributed models to characterize physical habitats
Ecoflows transfer tools and databases (software) for quantifying ecohydrological variables and intermittency, hydraulic geometries, water temperature, nutrients fluxes, and habitat suitabilities for a wide range of aquatic taxa in reaches and catchments, . We use hydrodynamic models of reaches and physical-based distributed models of catchmlents, developed by ourselves and our partners, to simulate impacts of climate change and river management on water resources, habitats, stream thermal regimes and metabolism.
Taxonomic identification and molecular tools for quantifying biodiversity in rivers and streams
EcoFlowS has a strong expertise in fish and invertebrate identification. Today, it holds a biodiversity lab connected with others French taxonomic specialist (OPIE benthos, ORIA, retired expert). A particular attention is payed to ecology and taxonomy of aquatic invertebrates, especially Plecoptera, Trichoptera, Ephemeroptera and Mollusca. A solid scientific research on ecology needs a species levels resolution of the biodiversity, then, a constant research effort combining morphological description with molecular tools is carried out and shared.
Coupling field and laboratory experiments
EcoFlowS research often combines innovative field and laboratory experiments with long-term field surveys to understand ecohydrological processes. For example, it holds a mesocom facility that allows manipulating different stressors (eg flow permanence, temperature, clogging, biotic interaction) under highly-controlled conditions. EcoFlowS also run experiment in-situ, for example to divert or dry river channels to quantify organisms resistance and resilience processes. Ecoflows is also strongly involved in long-term (up to 30 years) field surveys and LTSER platforms, to study long-term population dynamics of fish, long-term responses to river drying and glacial melting. Combining these different research paths is rare and provide an edge to the discipline.