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  1. A prevailing paradigm suggests that species richness increases with area in a decelerating way. This ubiquitous power law scaling, the species–area relationship, has formed the foundation of many conservation strategies. In spatially complex ecosystems, however, the area may not be the sole dimension to scale biodiversity patterns because the scale-invariant complexity of fractal ecosystem structure may drive ecological dynamics in space. Here, we use theory and analysis of extensive fish community data from two distinct geographic regions to show that riverine biodiversity follows a robust scaling law along the two orthogonal dimensions of ecosystem size and complexity (i.e., the dual scaling law). In river networks, the recurrent merging of various tributaries forms fractal branching systems, where the prevalence of branching (ecosystem complexity) represents a macroscale control of the ecosystem’s habitat heterogeneity. In the meantime, ecosystem size dictates metacommunity size and total habitat diversity, two factors regulating biodiversity in nature. Our theory predicted that, regardless of simulated species’ traits, larger and more branched “complex” networks support greater species richness due to increased space and environmental heterogeneity. The relationships were linear on logarithmic axes, indicating power law scaling by ecosystem size and complexity. In support of this theoretical prediction, the power lawsmore »have consistently emerged in riverine fish communities across the study regions (Hokkaido Island in Japan and the midwestern United States) despite hosting different fauna with distinct evolutionary histories. The emergence of dual scaling law may be a pervasive property of branching networks with important implications for biodiversity conservation.

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  2. Despite decades of policy that strives to reduce nutrient and sediment export from agricultural fields, surface water quality in intensively managed agricultural landscapes remains highly degraded. Recent analyses show that current conservation efforts are not sufficient to reverse widespread water degradation in Midwestern agricultural systems. Intensifying row crop agriculture and increasing climate pressure require a more integrated approach to water quality management that addresses diverse sources of nutrients and sediment and off-field mitigation actions. We used multiobjective optimization analysis and integrated three biophysical models to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of alternative portfolios of watershed management practices at achieving nitrate and suspended sediment reduction goals in an agricultural basin of the Upper Midwestern United States. Integrating watershed-scale models enabled the inclusion of near-channel management alongside more typical field management and thus directly the comparison of cost-effectiveness across portfolios. The optimization analysis revealed that fluvial wetlands (i.e., wide, slow-flowing, vegetated water bodies within the riverine corridor) are the single-most cost-effective management action to reduce both nitrate and sediment loads and will be essential for meeting moderate to aggressive water quality targets. Although highly cost-effective, wetland construction was costly compared to other practices, and it was not selected in portfolios at low investment levels.more »Wetland performance was sensitive to placement, emphasizing the importance of watershed scale planning to realize potential benefits of wetland restorations. We conclude that extensive interagency cooperation and coordination at a watershed scale is required to achieve substantial, economically viable improvements in water quality under intensive row crop agricultural production.

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