Are non-perennial rivers considered as valuable and worthy of conservation as perennial rivers?

Pablo Rodríguez-Lozano, Cleo Woelfle-Erskine, Michael T. Bogan, Stephanie M. Carlson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Non-perennial rivers, watercourses that cease to flow at some point in time and space, are widespread globally but often lack effective protections. Although it is thought that these ecosystems are undervalued by society, empirical studies exploring people’s perceptions of non-perennial rivers are uncommon. We carried out an image-based survey at three U.S. universities to measure students’ perception of riverscapes according to seven characteristics: aesthetics, naturalness, habitat for biodiversity, habitat for fish, need of human intervention, importance for human well-being, and conservation value. Our results showed that non-perennial rivers are generally considered less valuable and worthy of conservation than their perennial counterparts. Furthermore, several factors influenced peoples’ perception of non-perennial rivers, including where they live, their educational history, how often they visit rivers, their leisure activities, and whether they live close to a river. Our findings suggested the need to improve people’s perceptions of non-perennial rivers as a step toward increased protection for these ecosystems. This current challenge demands combined actions by researchers from diverse disciplines and professionals working from different perspectives, including policymakers and educators.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5782
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 2 2020


  • Conservation
  • Dry riverbeds
  • Education for sustainability
  • Environmental perception
  • Freshwater ecosystems
  • Human dimensions
  • Isolated pools
  • Non-perennial rivers
  • Socio-ecological systems
  • Transdisciplinary research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment

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