, Volume 102, Issue 1, pp 73-80

Invertebrates and urban runoff in a small northern stream, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

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Abstract

The invertebrate fauna of a small northern stream was examined within Edmonton, Alberta. Many invertebrates that were common upstream of the city were absent or rare within the city. In contrast, some tubificids and chironomids were very abundant within the city. Diversity and richness (number of taxa) of the fauna were much lower within Edmonton than upstream, while the total density was much higher within the city. These changes in the urban invertebrate fauna were apparently caused by the discharge of organic materials and silt from storm sewer runoff.

Chemical analysis of routinely-collected water samples did not show significant differences between urban and non-urban sites. This was probably due to the sporadic nature of storm sewer runoff. Peak levels of contaminants in the stream were usually missed because of the routine nature of sampling. Aquatic invertebrates, which exhibit long-term responses to sporadic runoff incidents, provided a better indication of stream water quality than did routine chemical monitoring.