• hyporheic zone;
  • hydrochemistry;
  • ground water–surface water interactions;
  • salmonid ecology


Spatial and temporal variability in ground water–surface water interactions in the hyporheic zone of a salmonid spawning stream was investigated. Four locations in a 150-m reach of the stream were studied using hydrometric and hydrochemical tracing techniques. A high degree of hydrological connectivity between the riparian hillslope and the stream channel was indicated at two locations, where hydrochemical changes and hydraulic gradients indicated that the hyporheic zone was dominated by upwelling ground water. The chemistry of ground water reflected relatively long residence times and reducing conditions with high levels of alkalinity and conductivity, low dissolved oxygen (DO) and nitrate. At the other locations, connectivity was less evident and, at most times, the hyporheic zone was dominated by downwelling stream water characterized by high DO, low alkalinity and conductivity. Substantial variability in hyporheic chemistry was evident at fine (<10 m) spatial scales and changed rapidly over the course of hydrological events. The nature of the hydrochemical response varied among locations depending on the strength of local ground water influence. It is suggested that greater emphasis on spatial and temporal heterogeneity in ground water–surface water interactions in the hyporheic zone is necessary for a consideration of hydrochemical effects on many aspects of stream ecology. For example, the survival of salmonid eggs in hyporheic gravels varied considerably among the locations studied and was shown to be associated with variation in interstitial chemistry. River restoration schemes and watershed management strategies based only on the surface expression of catchment characteristics risk excluding consideration of potentially critical subsurface processes. Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.