Center for Freshwater Ecology

Research Group of Systems Ecology and Watershed Ecology


PI: Prof. CAI Qinghua, PhD 

Faculty: Associated Professor: Tao Tang; Assistant Professor: Lin Ye; 

Engineers: Daofeng Li, Ruiqiu Liu, Ming Cao; 9 Ph.D. students and 6 Sc.M. students 

Contact us: 

Qinghua Cai (
Research Group on Systems Ecology and Watershed Ecology
Institute of Hydrobiology, the Chinese Academy of Sciences
7# South Donghu Road, Wuhan, Hubei, China, 430072 

Tel: +86-27-68780865 

Fax: +86-27-68780123 

General introduction: 

The Research Group of Systems Ecology and Watershed Ecology originated the emerging research field of "Watershed Ecology" in the 1990s, and has been dedicated to developing theories and methods on watershed ecology for decades. 

Researchers from this group take inland water bodies (e.g. streams, rivers, reservoirs, lakes) and their watersheds as the research unit. Statistical methods, accompanying with various of experimental approaches, are their main research techniques. Their research focuses on the development and evolution of freshwater biodiversity in the watersheds; freshwater biodiversity and their ecosystem functions; coupling relationships between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems in the watershed; Watershed ecological quality assessments and management, etc.  

Based on these researches, they anticipate to reveal scale-dependence relationships between ecological processes and patterns in the watershed ecosystem, and grasp the characteristics of watershed ecosystems and their change mechanisms. Their research may provide valuable scientific knowledge to practices on freshwater biodiversity protection and watershed ecosystem management. 

Current research interests:  

* Development and maintenance mechanisms of aquatic biodiversity 

* Relationships between aquatic biodiversity and ecosystem functions 

* Long-term ecology of rivers/reservoirs 

* Watershed ecology and watershed ecosystem management 

* Modelling on freshwater ecosystems 

Recent Publications (2005-now): 

1.  Li F, Cai Q and Liu J. 2009. Temperature-dependent growth and life cycle of Nemoura sichuanensis (Plecoptera: Nemouridae) in a Chinese mountain stream. International Review of Hydrobiology, 94: 592-605. 

2.  Xu Y, Cai Q, Shao M, Han X and Cao M. Seasonal dynamics of suspended solids in a giant subtropical reservoir (China) in relation to internal processes and hydrological features. Quaternary International (online, DOI: 10.1016/j.quaint.2008.12.019). 

3.  Ye L, Cai Q, Liu R and Cao M. The influence of geology and land use on water quality of Xiangxi River in Three Gorges Reservoir region. Environmental Geology, 58: 937-942. 

4.  Wu N, Tang T, Zhou S, Jia X, Li D, Liu R and Cai Q. 2009. Changes in benthic algal communities following construction of a run-of-river dam. Journal of the North American Benthological Society, 28(1): 69-79. 

5.  Wu N, Tang T, Qu X and Cai Q. 2009. Spatial distribution of benthic algae in the Gangqu River, Shangrila, China. Aquatic Ecology, 43: 37-49. 

6.  Xu Y, Cai Q, Ye L, Zhou S and Han X. 2009. Spring diatom blooming phases and their characters in a representative eutrophic bay of the Three-Gorge Reservoir, China. Journal of Freshwater Ecology, 24(2): 191-198. 

7.  Li F, Cai Q, Fu X and Liu J. 2009. Construction of habitat suitability models (HSMs) for benthic macroinvertebrate and their applications to instream environmental flows - A case study in Xiangxi River of Three Gorges Reservoir region, China. Progress in Natural Science, 19(3): 359-367. 

8.  Shao M, Xie Z, Han X, Cao M and Cai Q. 2008. Macroinvertebrate community structure in Three-Gorges Reservoir, China. International Review of Hydrobiology, 93(2): 175-187. 

9.  Shao M, He L, Han X, Xie Z, Li D and Cai Q. 2008. Seasonal patterns of sedimentation and their associations with benthic communities in Xiangxi Bay of the Three Gorges Reservoir, China. Journal of Freshwater Ecology, 23 (1): 151-160. 

10. Zhou S, Tang T, Wu N, Fu X and Cai Q. 2008. Impacts of a small dam on riverine zooplankton. International Review of Hydrobiology, 93(3): 297-311. 

11.  Zhou S, Huang X and Cai Q. 2007. Vertical distribution and migration of planktonic rotifers in Xiangxi Bay of the Three Gorges Reservoir, China. Journal of Freshwater Ecology, 22(3): 441-449. 

12.  Ye L, Han X, Xu Y and Cai Q. 2007. Spatial analysis for spring bloom and nutrient limitation in Xiangxi bay of Three Gorges Reservoir. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 127:135-145. 

13.  Wu N, Cai Q, Tang T and Qu X. 2007. Benthic algae of the Gangqu River, Shangrila, China. Journal of Freshwater Ecology, 22(1): 151-153. 

14.  Shao M, Xie Z, Ye L and Cai Q. 2006. Changes in the bethic macroinvertebrates in Xiangxi Bay following dam closure to form the Three Gorges Reservoir. Journal of Freshwater Ecology, 21(4): 717-719. 

15.  Ye L, Xu Y, Han X and Cai Q. 2006. Daily dynamics of nutrient and chlorophyll a during a spring phytoplankton bloom in Xiangxi Bay of the Three Gorges Reservoir. Journal of Freshwater Ecology, 21(2): 315-321. 

16.  Tang T, Cai Q and Liu J. 2006. Using epilithic diatom communities to assess ecological condition of Xiangxi River system. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 112: 347-361. 

17.  Xie Z, Tang T, Ma K, Liu R, Qu X, Chen J, and Cai Q. 2005. Influence of environmental variables on macroinvertebrates in a macrophyte-dominated Chinese lake, with emphasis on the relationships between macrophyte heterogeneity and macroinvertebrate patterns. Journal of Freshwater Ecology, 20(3): 503-512. 

18.  Jiang M, Deng H, Cai Q and Wu G. 2005. Species richness in a riparian plant community along the banks of the Xiangxi River, the Three Gorges region. The International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology, 12(1): 60-67. 

19.  Qu X, Tang T, Xie Z, Liu R, Li D and Cai Q. 2005. Distribution of macroinvertebrates in the Xiangxi River System and their relationship with environmental factors. Journal of Freshwater Ecology, 20(2): 233-238. 

20.  Tang T, Qu X, Li D and Cai Q. 2004. Benthic algae of Xiangxi River, China. Journal of Freshwater Ecology, 19(4): 597-604. 

21.  Zhao B and Cai Q. 2004. Geostatistical analysis of chlorophyll a in freshwater ecosystems. Journal of Freshwater Ecology, 19(4): 613-621. 

22.  Xie Z, Cai Q, Tang T, Ma K and Ye L, 2003. Structure of macrozoobenthos of East Dongting Nature Reserve, with emphasis on the relationships with environmental variables. Journal of Freshwater Ecology, 18(3): .405-413. 

23.  Tang T, Cai Q, Liu R, Li D and Xie Z, 2002. Distribution of epilithic algae in the Xiangxi River system and their relationships with environmental factors. Journal of Freshwater Ecology, 17(3): 345-352.