Living Systems in Rivers

brown trout

Strong and Courageous Blog


This week I would like to develop the concept of how complex the interactions of differing animals and plants are in their environment. In this blog, we have been talking about the complexity that we see in living cells within a single organism, however we have not looked at the next layer of symbiotic relationships in biological systems.

It is amazing to me to see the intricate design characteristics found in differing ecosystems.  One example that is near and dear to me is flowing river environments, because I love to fly-fish for trout. In this river environment there is a sense of deep beauty and mystery of what is going on under the surface of the water. This aquatic biological system has a very complex food chain that is much akin to an African Savannah where predator and prey live out a daily struggle for survival.

may fly nymph

My interest in fly-fishing has led me to the subject of studying entomology in order to become more skilled at my craft. I know that this is not a super fascinating subject for the general public, and I don’t want to bore you in the details, but I will say that these creatures are truly amazing when looking at their complexity of how they mature. These bugs start out as little nymphs that either cling to the bottom or burrow under the river floor or freely swim in the small rocks and crevices near the bottom. Some of them build little tiny houses to protect themselves out of pieces of wood or gravel. When they mature toward adulthood, they go through an amazing metamorphosis process just like a butterfly does.

march brown

This process is profoundly complex, well beyond any notion that this could have occurred by chance or natural selection.  These creatures have their origins in design, no other explanation will do. They change from a crawling bug to a winged insect while at the same time, entrapped gases causes them to float up to the surface where they become an abundant food source for the hungry trout that are stalking them.

The trout that eat the bugs are amazing creatures as well. When we touch one of them, we instantly feel the icky slime on their skin. However, this adaptation is critically important for the trout to survive. Not only does this improve their ability to swim in a strong current, it also protects them from harmful bacteria and disease.

The trout are not the top of the food chain as we might expect them to be. They are vulnerable to predation from many different types of birds such as cormorants, osprey, and bald eagles. Each of these majestic creatures have the incredible ability of flight, which also screams of complex design processes that provide them with lightweight aerodynamic characteristics.

All of these various creatures live in a symbiotic relationship that is critical for the survival of their ecosystem. Too many or too few of each link can have a profound impact on the overall health of the environment in which they live.

I am amazed at the beauty and intricacy found in these living systems. Every time that I go out on the river, I am in awe of the creative ability of God All mighty! I don’t worship the creatures in these systems, I worship the creator of them all.