Stream Biology and Ecology

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     Note: this website contains information for elementary through college-level studies.

      What is a stream? A thin strip of water, cutting its way through snow packs and cold mountain forests, finding its way downhill until at last it meanders slowly toward the sea? A stream is that, and so much more. Its bottom extends down beneath the ground, and its sides stretch out into its floodplains. In some ways, it is the visible part of an aquifer. It is dynamic, constantly changing its course, water levels, and temperatures. It is a multitude of different habitats for plants and animals, and it is a source of food for bears, raccoons, otters, herons, kingfishers, bald eagles, and many other animals--as well as people. Salmon and many insects begin their lives there. It is one half of an estuary (where the saltwater of the sea and freshwater mix at the mouth of a river). It carries glacial silt and sediment down from the mountains, creating rich agricultural lands by depositing them on its floodplain and fertilizing the ocean. The rich environment created at its delta--its mouth--provides a nursery for marine organisms and abundant feeding grounds for migratory birds.

      Streams--from creeks to rivers--are complex ecosystems that take part in the physical and chemical cycles that shape our planet and allow life to exist. Stream Biology & Ecology is the study of these ecosystems.

      I hope you enjoy your visit.

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This site was developed by Cristi Cave,
B.S., Fisheries, 1998, School of Fisheries,
University of Washington.

If you have comments or suggestions, please email me at


     My appreciation and gratitude is extended to Beverly H. Harris, who has volunteered a great deal of her time to review this site, generously lending her expertise in web site development, HTML and JavaScript, and gentle suggestions for improvement.

      In addition, this page could not possibly be published today without the free website hosting services of Super Dimension Fortress (SDF). I can't recommend SDF highly enough. To use their services, visit their site.

     I thank the many professors, TA's, and RA's at the College of Ocean and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington. It was through their sharing of knowledge and experience that I learned enough about fisheries to be able to offer this website to you.

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The Plants and Animals of a Stream How Streams Work, and How People Affect Them Reading List Links Site Index How Biologists Study Streams