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Earth Surface Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 24 Oct 2019

Submitted as: research article | 24 Oct 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Earth Surface Dynamics (ESurf).

Topographic controls on divide migration, stream capture, and diversification in riverine life

Nathan J. Lyons1, Pedro Val2, James S. Albert3, Jane K. Willenbring4, and Nicole M. Gasparini1 Nathan J. Lyons et al.
  • 1Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA, USA
  • 2Department of Geology, Federal University of Ouro Preto, Ouro Preto, Brazil
  • 3Department of Biology, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Lafayette, CA, USA
  • 4Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA

Abstract. Drainages reorganise in landscapes under diverse conditions and process dynamics. We investigated the relative control that Earth surface process parameters have on divide migration and stream capture in scenarios of base level fall and heterogeneous uplift. A model built with the Landlab toolkit was run 51,200 times in a sensitivity analysis that used globally observed values. Large-scale drainage reorganisation occurred only in the model runs within a limited combination of parameters and conditions. Uplift rate, rock erodibility, and the magnitude of perturbation (base level fall or fault displacement) had the greatest influence on drainage reorganisation. The relative magnitudes of perturbation and topographic relief limited landscape susceptibility to reorganisation. Stream captures occurred more often when the channel head distance to divide was low. Stream topology set by initial conditions strongly affected capture occurrence when the imposed uplift was spatially heterogeneous.

We also modelled riverine species lineages as they developed in response to the single topographic perturbation. We used a new Landlab component called SpeciesEvolver that models species lineages at landscape scale. Simulated species populated to the modelled landscape were tracked and evolved using macroevolutionary process rules. More frequent stream capture and less frequent stream network disappearance due to divide migration increased speciation and decreased extinction, respectively, in the heterogeneous uplift scenario where final species diversity was often greater than the base level fall scenario. Under both scenarios, the landscape conditions that led to drainage reorganisation following a single perturbation also controlled diversification, especially for the species that evolved more rapidly in some model trials. These results illustrate the utility of SpeciesEvolver to explore how life evolves alongside landscapes. Future research applications of SpeciesEvolver can incorporate more complex climatic and tectonic forcings as they relate to macroevolution and surface processes, as well as region- and taxon-specific organisms based in rivers as well as those on continents at large.

Nathan J. Lyons et al.
Interactive discussion
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Status: open (extended)
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Nathan J. Lyons et al.
Data sets

Drainage reorganisation and species evolution: model sensitivity analysis data N. J. Lyons, P. Val, J. S. Albert, J. K. Willenbring, and N. M. Gasparini

Video supplement

V1. Small base level fall example: trial 5043 N. J. Lyons

V2. Large base level fall example: trial 12613 N. J. Lyons

V3. Fault throw example: trial 12613 N. J. Lyons

V4. Lower boundary base level fall stream capture and species richness example: trial 12126 N. J. Lyons

V5. Species richness base level fall example: trial 12613 N. J. Lyons

V6. Species richness fault throw example: trial 12613 N. J. Lyons

Nathan J. Lyons et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Changes in topographic structure affect the geographic ranges of organisms by fragmenting habitats, which can lead to new species, and shrinking habitats, which increase extinction rates. We developed an approach and applied a new modelling tool to assess how changes in the course of a river impact riverine species. This first application of the tool demonstrates that following climatic and tectonic change, species can proliferate or diminish, depending on the details of topographic structure.
Changes in topographic structure affect the geographic ranges of organisms by fragmenting...