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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 19, 2023
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 28, 2023
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  4. Abstract

    Milldams and their legacies have significantly influenced fluvial processes and geomorphology. However, less is known about their effects on riparian zone hydrology, biogeochemistry, and water quality. Here, we discuss the potential effects of existing and breached milldams on riparian nitrogen (N) processing through multiple competing hypotheses and observations from complementary studies. Competing hypotheses characterize riparian zone processes that remove (sink) or release (source) N. Elevated groundwater levels and reducing soil conditions upstream of milldams suggest that riparian zones above dams could be hotspots for N removal via denitrification and plant N uptake. On the other hand, dam removals and subsequent drops in stream and riparian groundwater levels result in drained, oxic soils which could increase soil nitrification and decrease riparian plant uptake due to groundwater bypassing the root zone. Whether dam removals would result in a net increase or decrease of N in riparian groundwaters is unknown and needs to be investigated. While nitrification, denitrification, and plant N uptake have typically received the most attention in riparian studies, other N cycle processes such as dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium (DNRA) need to be considered. We also propose a novel concept of riparian discontinuum, which highlights the hydrologic and biogeochemicalmore »discontinuities introduced in riparian zones by anthropogenic structures such as milldams. Understanding and quantifying how milldams and similar structures influence the net source or sink behavior of riparian zones is urgently needed for guiding watershed management practices and for informed decision making with regard to dam removals.

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  5. Abstract

    Riverine floodplains exhibit high floral and faunal diversity as a consequence of their biophysical complexity. Extension of such niche partitioning processes to microbial communities is far less resolved or supported. Here, we evaluated the responses of aquatic biofilms diversity to environmental gradients across ten riverine floodplains with differing degrees of flow alteration and habitat diversity to assess whether complex floodplains support biofilm communities with greater biodiversity and species interactions. No significant evidence was found to support a central role for habitat diversity in promoting microbial diversity across 116 samples derived from 62 aquatic habitats, as neither α (H’: 2.8–4.1) nor β (Sørensen: 0.3–0.39) diversity were positively related to floodplain complexity across the ten floodplains. In contrast, our results documented the sensitivity of biofilm communities to regional templates manifested as gradients of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorous availability. Large-scale conditions reflecting nitrogen limitation increased the relative abundance of N-fixing cyanobacteria (up to 0.34 as fraction of total reads), constrained the total number of interactions among bacterial taxa, and reinforced negative over positive interactions, generating unique microbial communities and networks that reflect large-scale species sorting in response to regional geochemical gradients.