Predicting Biodiversity Patterns
01.03.08 - Using geomorphological data from the US Geological Survey, we identified 824 sub-basins in the network. In these, the simple presence (or not) of 433 species of fish was established from a database of US freshwater fish populations.
Data on the average runoff production was then used to calculate the habitat capacity of each sub-basin. The model results were compared to data on actual fish species distributions, and various measures of biodiversity were analyzed : the model captured these complex patterns quite accurately.
Our ability to predict biodiversity in this enormous river basin using only hydrological parameters is a powerful reminder of the importance of water and the water-defined landscape in determining patterns of life. We are planning to use this as a framework to explore the consequences of large scale climate change on biodiversity patterns, or assessing the impact of local human activities, such as damming on biodiversity patterns in river networks.