Surface / groundwater interactions – a biological and ecohydrological approach

Electrical Resistivity Imaging revealing the architecture of the hyporheic stream bed sediments

The hyporheic zone is the subsurface flow area beneath and adjacent to streams and rivers characterized by active vertical and lateral exchanges of nutrients and organic matter among surface and groundwater, in response to variations in discharge and bed topography and porosity. Current projects of the Groundwater Ecology group aims to: i) assess structure and dynamics of hyporheic communities from rivers and streams in the Mediterranean and Arctic regions; ii) investigate the role of the hyporheic zone as an intermediary transfer area of pollutants from the surface rivers to groundwater; and iii) delineate the lateral and vertical spatial extents of the hyporheic zone, characterize the streambed architecture and provide detailed spatial information on vertical and horizontal continuity of hyporheic zone. We combine the biological assessments of hyporheic invertebrate’s community’s structural patterns and ecological features with the non-invasive geophysical techniques obtained by electrical resistivity tomography (ERT).

We aims to highlight the use of hyporheic communities as an alternative proxy to investigate the water quality and surface water/ground water exchanges; to understand the hyporheic structure and function and its relation to the associated alluvial aquifers; and to provide an early warning signal of subsurface ecosystems quality decline. Our researches propose to advance our understanding of the ecohydrological processes occurring at the surface/groundwater interface and will endorse the effective incorporation of the hyporheic zone in stream management plans. Both facets are essential for the development of sustainable integrated water management strategies at the river basin level.

Team collaborators: Dr. Raffaela Meffe (IMDEA Water), Dr. Javier Lillo Ramos (University Rey Juan Carlos – IMDEA Water), Dr. David Gómez Ortiz (University Rey Juan Carlos, Spain); Ruben Rasines Ladero. 


Rasines, R. 2017. The ecology of the hyporetic zone associated with the rivers Henares and Tajuña (Jarama River Basin, Spain), PhD Thesis, University Rey Juan Carlos, IMDEA Water, 485 pp.

Rasines-Ladero, R. and Iepure, S. 2016. Parent lithology and organic matter influence the hyporheic biota of two Mediterranean rivers in central Spain. Limnetica, 35 (1). pp. 19-36. ISSN 0213-8409.

Rasines, R., R. Meffe, F. Carreño, D. Mostaza, A. Sundbarg, S. Iepure, 2016. Patterns of groundwater copepods and ostracods biodiversity and distribution in relation to aquifer types in Central Spain: hydrogeology vs. environmental factors. XVIII Congress of the Iberian Associacion of Limnology, Tortosa, Spain.

Rasines, R. 2015 El uso de los microcrustáceos como indicadores biológicos de calidad ecológica en la zona hiporréica

Iepure, S., Meffe, R., Carreño, F., Rasines-Ladero, R., De Bustamante, I. 2014. Geochemical, geological and hydrological influence on ostracod assemblages distribution in the hyporheic zone of two Mediterranean rivers in central Spain. International Review of Hydrobiology (99). pp. 435-449.

Rasines, R., S. Iepure, R. Lorente, I. Chocron Niego, 2014. Influence of habitats heterogeneity of groundwater-feed streams on hyporheic crustaceans, in a Mediterranean river basin,  Iberian Peninsula, XVII Congreso de la Asociación Ibérica de Limnología, Santander, Spain.

Iepure S., D. Gomez-Ortiz, J. Lillo, R. Rasines, A. Persoiu, 2014. Applying electrical resistivity tomography and biological methods to assess the surface-groundwater interaction in two Mediterranean rivers (central Spain), Geophysical Research Abstracts, EGU, Viena, Austria.

Iepure, S., Martínez-Hernández, V., Herrera, S., Rasines-Ladero, R., De Bustamante, I. 2013. Response of microcrustacean communities from the surface—groundwater interface to water contamination in urban river system of the Jarama basin (central Spain). Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 20(8) : 5813–5826. 

Rasines, R., S. Iepure, F. Carreño, I. de Bustamante 2013. Subsurface crustacean communities as proxy for groundwater-surface water interactions in the Henares and Tajuña Rivers floodplains, central Spain. European Geoscience Union (EGU), Viena, Austria, Volume: 15.

Iepure, S., Martínez-Hernández, V., Herrera, S., De Bustamante, I., Rasines-Ladero, R. 2012. Influence of land use on hyporheos in catchment of the Jarama River (central Spain), European Geosciences Union (EGU), Viena, Austria, Geophysical Research Abstract. 

Iepure S., V. Martinez-Hernandez, S. Herrera Lopez, R. Rasines, 2012. Influence of land use on hyporheos in catchment of the Jarama River (central Spain), Geophysical Research Abstracts, EGU Viena, Austria.

Iepure, S., 2011 Hypogean crustaceans as bio-indicators for groundwater pollution