Ecology of Riparian Ecosystems

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In the urban landscape, ecosystems are being fragmented into smaller and smaller pieces that lack the connectivity and resources to function properly. Riparian zones are ecosystems that act as an ecotone, or interface, between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. A properly functioning riparian ecosystem provides a multitude of ecosystem services that help keep the surrounding area healthy and sustainable (Mander et al 2005). Thus, when riparian ecosystems are fragmented and aren’t functioning properly, they fail to perform these services that help maintain a healthy environment. Due to urbanization and the fragmentation of riparian zones, riparian zones and rivers are often destroyed or put underground into pipelines for more building space (Naimen et al. 1993). This breaking up of riparian zones and waterways, as well as the installation of impermeable surfaces, can lead to issues that get exacerbated in areas with functioning riparian ecosystems.


Final project for PLSC480: Urban Ecology, Management of Urban Forest Edges (Spring 2016). Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, University of Maryland, College Park.