For more than twenty years this team has been trying to identify links between the ecology and functioning of rivers and the surrounding terrestrial environment because, when all is said and done, rivers are like the excretory apparatus of the continents, just like the kidney is to the human body. River water often reflect the state of health of the external environment.
Within this line of research, the UPV/EHU team is focusing on studying the possible impact of the afforestation of exotic species on the functioning of rivers, both on the chemistry of the water as well as on the communities of organisms therein. An exotic species is a species introduced outside its normal area of distribution, for example, the eucalyptus the case in hand.
Rivers of any specific geographical environment have a natural riverside type of vegetation and the community of organisms in the river is accustomed to consuming the dead leaves and foliage that enter the water from this surrounding vegetation. When this natural vegetation (in this case deciduous woods) are substituted by exotic plantations the quality of this plant material changes and the community of river organisms have to deal with the use or otherwise of this non-autochthonous organic material. This use or not by the aquatic organisms of the new material entering the river system can have certain repercussions, both on the organisms themselves and on processes occurring in the river.
Until recently the methods on which the diagnosis of masses of water were based were structural ones, i.e. the study, for example, of the presence or otherwise of certain organisms were taken as indicators of better or worse quality of a river. Recently, however, attempts are being made to take into account not only the structure, i.e. the organisms that are there and not there, but also what the organisms that exist do, that is, if the river processes function in a suitable manner. In relation to the tendency t
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