SREL Reprint #2179





New concepts in stream ecology: proceedings of a symposium

Department of Biology, Boise State University, Boise, Idaho 83709 USA

Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, Draa7er E, Aiken, South Carolina 29802 USA

Studies on the ecology of flowing water systems have been shaped and continue to be dominated by a few major paradigms. Much of the research that led to these paradigms was done in the 1970s and 1980s. Seminal papers published during this period include those on detrital processing in streams (Boling et al. 1975), the river continuum concept (Vannote et al. 1980, Minshall et al. 1983, 1985), nutrient spiraling (Newbold et al. 1983), stream alteration by beaver (Naiman et al. 1986), hyporheic habitats of streams (Stanford and Ward 1988), and the flood pulse concept (junk et al. 1989). Since then, however, the introduction of new ideas and theories into stream ecological thought seems to have leveled off. More recent research has largely examined the earlier concepts under a variety of situations and conditions, confirming or contradicting the tested concept-in essence, filling in the details. Although testing the applicability of theories under a wide range of conditions is an important step in the establishment of a paradigm, such testing delays the generation of new ideas and the discipline does not advance.

It was Emerson who stated "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines" (Emerson, 1841). Although consistency is an integral part of science, a foolish consistency is not. Ideas need time for fruition, but this time should not be spent cultivating a monoculture, and a good weeding is needed now and again. Diversity of ideas is as critical in advancing science as the consistent and deliberate testing of both old and new concepts.

SREL Reprint #2179

Koetsier, P. and J V. McArthur. 1997. New concepts in stream ecology: proceedings of a symopsium. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 16:303-304.

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