We are currently studying the influence of temperature on the structure and function of stream ecosystems in the Hengill region of Iceland. Streams in this area are variably warmed by geothermal heat, with mean temperatures ranging from 5°C to 30°C. Although temperatures are variable, stream solute chemistry is remarkably similar due to the indirect warming of groundwater. Thus, streams in this area provide a unique natural laboratory for examining potential effects of climate warming on stream structure and function.

We’re testing predictions about how food web dynamics and ecosystem processes will change with climate warming using two unifying frameworks - (1) biological stoichiometry and (2) metabolic theory of ecology. Because these frameworks are based on first principles (e.g., conservation of mass, thermodynamics), we expect our results to be generally applicable to other ecosystems. 

We have developed strong collaborations with our colleagues in Europe, and we are now able to accomplish much more as a larger team with complementary areas expertise. See link to the collaborative research page below.

Click here for our blog “The Hengill Diaries”

Click here for our collaborative research page

MSU Press

The team:

Wyatt Cross, Montana State University

Jon Benstead, University of Alabama

Alex Huryn, University of Alabama

Jill Welter, St. Catherine University

Gisli Mar Gislason, University of Iceland

Jon Olafsson, Institute of Freshwater Fisheries, Iceland

International colleagues and collaborators

Guy Woodward, Imperial College London

Eoin O'Gormann, Imperial College London

Benoit Demars, James Hutton Institute Scotland

Nikolai Friberg, Aarhus University Denmark


Predicting effects of climate warming on stream ecosystem structure and function