Ruth Patrick's scientific career has been devoted to the study of freshwater organisms in water. It started with studies of diatoms. She found one could interpret the condition of water by studying diatoms. This study of the ecology of diatoms expanded into ecological studies of communities of organisms that live in streams. By shifts in the structure of communities she was able to show the effects of various types of pollution on the aquatic ecosystem. This was the first time an organized team of biologists had been used to study the effects of pollution in streams. Through this research she showed that freshwater ecosystems were characterized by large numbers of species with very different environmental requirements operating in each stage of nutrient and energy transfer in the food web. These species belonged to many different phylogenetic groups. This redundancy gives stability to the system.


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Literature Cited

  1. Patrick R. 1949. A proposed biological measure of stream conditions based on a survey of the Conestoga Basin, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci., Philadelphia 101:277–341 [Google Scholar]
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  • Article Type: Review Article
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