Ecohydrological interfaces as hot spots of ecosystem processes

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


  • Jörg Lewandowski
  • Nancy B. Grimm
  • Gilles Pinay
  • Eugènia Martí
  • Alba Argerich
  • Laurent Pfister
  • Julian Klaus
  • Tom Battin
  • Scott T. Larned
  • Jacob Schelker
  • Jan Fleckenstein
  • Christian Schmidt
  • Glenn Watts
  • Francesc Sabater
  • Albert Sorolla
  • Valentina Turk

External organisations

  • Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB)
  • Arizona State University
  • Observatoire des Sciences de l'Univers de Rennes
  • Centre for Advanced Studies of Blanes (CEAB-CSIC)
  • Oregon State University
  • Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology
  • Laboratory of Photonics and Interfaces, Department de Chimie, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland.
  • National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, New Zealand
  • University of Vienna
  • Department for Urban and Environmental Sociology
  • Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
  • Naturalea
  • National Institute of Biology Ljubljana


The movement of water, matter, organisms, and energy can be altered substantially at ecohydrological interfaces, the dynamic transition zones that often develop within ecotones or boundaries between adjacent ecosystems. Interdisciplinary research over the last two decades has indicated that ecohydrological interfaces are often “hot spots” of ecological, biogeochemical, and hydrological processes and may provide refuge for biota during extreme events. Ecohydrological interfaces can have significant impact on global hydrological and biogeochemical cycles, biodiversity, pollutant removal, and ecosystem resilience to disturbance. The organizational principles (i.e., the drivers and controls) of spatially and temporally variable processes at ecohydrological interfaces are poorly understood and require the integrated analysis of hydrological, biogeochemical, and ecological processes. Our rudimentary understanding of the interactions between different drivers and controls critically limits our ability to predict complex system responses to change. In this paper, we explore similarities and contrasts in the functioning of diverse freshwater ecohydrological interfaces across spatial and temporal scales. We use this comparison to develop an integrated, interdisciplinary framework, including a roadmap for analyzing ecohydrological processes and their interactions in ecosystems. We argue that, in order to fully account for their nonlinear process dynamics, ecohydrological interfaces need to be conceptualized as unique, spatially and temporally dynamic entities, which represents a step change from their current representation as boundary conditions at investigated ecosystems.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6359-6376
Number of pages18
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number8
Early online date17 Aug 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Aug 2017


  • biogeochemical transformation, boundary, ecohydrological interface, hot spot, interdisciplinary

ASJC Scopus subject areas