P.O. Box 54, Manhattan, MT 59741
Lab: 120 S. 5th St, Manhattan, MT 59741
Phone: 406-282-0050, Mobile: 406-570-4236

Why River Continuum Concepts

An illustration of the River Continuum Concept

The River Continuum Concept (Vannote et al. 1980) is a scientific framework for describing the predictable ways in which flowing ecosystems are expected to change spatially. For example, small headwaters are naturally different from large deltas. These differences extend beyond appearance to the very function of the food webs and the species comprising aquatic communities. Changes may appear categorical, but actually occur gradually, along a continuum. Not all streams fit the river continuum model, but even so, the river continuum concept is the most common framework used to discuss how these streams deviate from expectations.

This is an important concept for biological monitoring for many reasons. Among these reasons is the fact that many impairments or disturbances cause streams to behave differently than expected according to the river continuum concept (Vannote et al. 1980). Thus, although my team's name: River Continuum Concepts is a play on words, it is reflective of the underlying biological and physical interactions that make each stream unique--and the importance of understanding this uniqueness.

We apply this and other ecological concepts to develop specific monitoring plans to meet your groups specific needs.

Why Choose River Continuum Concepts?

I have worked for Academia, Government, and Industry. In all these work environments I have found that there are many smaller organizations that require the input and guidance of an experienced professional environmental biologist. They often have neither the need, nor resources, to fill a full time aquatic biologist position. Or, if they have an aquatic scientist, they often need input from a more-experienced specialist in ecological study design. Spending a few hours meeting during the early stages of an assessment can help ensure that you get what you need from your monitoring program--and, equally important, ensure that your resource managers understand the limitations of your monitoring design. This is why we are here at River Continuum Concepts!

Nearly every county, in nearly every state, has at least one Conservation District. These groups are tasked with working toward conservation and stewardship of soil and water resources locally, cooperatively. They fill a niche between local, state and federal governments and must work effectively with all levels of organization--and they do amazingly well at this task. Yet, it is not always easy to keep everyone happy. State and Federal agencies often have goals that are divergent from local interests. River Continuum Concepts is here to help balance the scales... to ensure application of the very best science for local concerns is considered as well as regulatory objectives. Often there is a significant overlap, and local, state and federal goals can all be attained with a little planing.

River Continuum Concepts specializes on local projects--all over the USA! We are based in Willow Creek, Montana, a small riverside town of ranches, hay fields, and recreational river enthusiasts. We focus on developing local monitoring programs to provide goal-oriented information. That sounds like a mouthful of fluff (this is a family website :)), but it has a very specific meaning. For example, we design studies to produce data to specifically demonstrate the benefits of restoration activities--to demonstrate the efficacy of new effluent treatment procedures... or to ensure that certain land-use activities don't start to have ecologically significant impairments of water quality--BEFORE they cause violations of legislated water quality criteria. It is obviously in everyone's best interest to resolve things before the regulatory authorities become involved.