, Volume 106, Issue 2, pp 157-168

Microhabitat preferences of benthic fauna in a woodland stream

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Abstract

Estimates of numbers, biomass, and diversity of benthic macroinvertebrates were made quarterly over a two-year period to investigate microhabitat preferences. Although biomass of most taxa was significantly different among sampling times, physical factors also appeared to be important in determining abundance of many taxa. Optimum depth, velocity, substrate type, and turbulence were determined for major taxa. Optimum conditions for diversity appeared to be 34 cm depth, 60 cm s−1 velocity, and rubble and boulder substrate type. Habitat preference functions were derived for several taxa based on significant polynomial regressions of biomass on depth, velocity, substrate, and Froude number (turbulence). The relationship between abundance and physical habitat conditions was tested by using the product of the preference factors (range: 0–1) for depth, velocity and substrate type as a measure of habitat suitability (joint preference factor). There were significant correlations between biomass [transformed by loge (x + 1)] of 10 benthic species and the joint preference factor. The joint preference factors accounted for from 11 to 61% of the variation of biomass of the 10 benthic species. The intercepts of the relationships between biomass of individual species and the joint preference factor were not significantly different from zero for any species. Therefore, the joint preference factors appear to be valid indicators of biomass. The preference functions have utility in habitat assessment studies, specifically with regard to minimum instream flow determinations.