The river continuum theory in the light of ecosystem principles

The river continuum theory can almost be seen as a different wording of the Ecological Law of Thermodynamics applied to rivers, since it is fully compliant with it. Along a continuous gradient of changing environmental conditions, what river communities do under the prevailing conditions is in fact "attempt to utilize the flow to increase its exergy, moving further away from thermodynamic equilibrium". Changing conditions along the gradient determine different constrains and therefore other processing strategies, because If more combinations and processes are offered to utilize the Exergy flow, the organization that is able to give the highest Exergy under the prevailing circumstances will be selected (Jorgensen, 1997), or alternatively as if more combinations and processes are offered to utilize the free energy flow, the organization that is able to give the greatest distance away from thermodynamic equilibrium under the prevailing circumstances will be selected (de Wit, 2005).

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