Funded Grants

Transport in river networks: A complex system perspective for biodiversity

Dendritic geometry abounds in nature, covering a mind-boggling range of scales. Such geometry occurs in our pulmonary systems, trails of foraging ants, plants, caves, river systems, and bird migration routes, to name a few. Indeed, countless processes essential to sustain human life and societies take place in these dendritic structures. Functioning pulmonary systems are essential to our very existence. Many birds, some of which carry avian flu viruses, migrate along dendritic networks via a combination of innate cues and spatial memory. Human settlements historically proceeded along river networks to follow the necessary water resources.

Indeed, riparian systems, the critically important ecosystems positioned along streams and rivers, are among our most quintessential dendritic networks. They play many crucial roles in their respective watersheds, including nutrient filtering and biogeochemical processing, shade and resource provisioning, and stream bank stabilization. Devastating water-borne diseases, such as cholera, spread through water bodies linked by dendritic river networks. Yet, our understanding of the linkage between the dendritic characteristics and these dynamics and patterns is very far from adequate.

To be sure, the dynamics of the systems mentioned above have been previously studied