Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biological Sciences (MS)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Biological Sciences


Amy M. Marcarelli


Stream restoration often focuses on increasing habitat heterogeneity to reverse ecosystem degradation. However, the connection between heterogeneity and ecosystem structure and processes is poorly understood. We looked to investigate this interaction from both applied and basic science perspectives. For the applied study, we examined two culvert replacements designed to mimic natural stream channels, to see if they were better at maintaining ecosystem processes within as well as upstream and downstream of culverts compared to non-replaced culverts. We measured three ecosystem processes (nutrient uptake, hydrologic characteristics, and coarse particulate organic matter retention) and found that stream simulation culvert restoration improved organic matter retention within culverts, and that there were no differences in processes measured upstream and downstream of both restoration designs. Our results suggest that measurements of ecosystem processes are more likely to show a response to restoration if they match the scale of the restoration activity. For the basic science study, we quantified the longitudinal spatial heterogeneity of physical and biofilm characteristics at microhabitat to segment scales on streams with different streambed variability. We found that all physical characteristics and biofilm characteristics were spatially independent at the macro-habitat scale and greater. Together, these studies demonstrate the importance of scale in ecological interactions and the value of incorporating considerations of scale into restoration activities.