Look upstream to protect freshwater supplies
Headwater streams are crucial in securing global freshwater resources, but they remain poorly understood and even more poorly protected.
Headwaters make up more than 70 percent of the total channel length of river networks, and they play a crucial role in river health. They influence sediment and nutrient levels, harbor animals that live in and around streams; and giving them safe passage to other good habitat, and in so doing they knit together entire watersheds. But researchers have work to do to understand these critically important areas, Ellen Wohl of Colorado State University reported in this recent review article. They need to to inventory species that live there, better understand what makes some bounce back from disturbance, as well as how they respond to changing climate, according to a special issue of Frontiers of Earth Science on headwater regions. What's more, Wohl adds, people need to protect them.
Source: Frontiers of Earth Science DOI 10.1007/s11707-017-0647-y