, Volume 241, Issue 2, pp 107-118

First online:

Benthic organic matter and detritivorous macroinvertebrates in two intermittent streams in south-eastern Australia

  • A. J. BoultonAffiliated withDepartment of Zoology, University of Adelaide
  • , P. S. LakeAffiliated withCentre for Stream Ecology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Biology, Monash University

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Temporal changes in coarse (> 1 mm), fine (< 1 mm, > 250 μm), and woody benthic organic matter (BOM), and densities of detritivores in pools and riffles were monitored at three sites on two intermittent streams (Werribee and Lerderderg Rivers) in Victoria, Australia during a drought year followed by a wetter year. Standing stocks of BOM peaked in both habitats during summer when discharge ceased and eucalypt leaf fall was greatest. During high winter and spring discharges, concentrations of BOM were low. Floods did not always scour BOM from the pools and riffles; after floods in October, standing stocks rose when BOM was imported from upstream or mobilized from the riparian zone. Densities of benthic detritivores, collector-gatherers, and shredders also varied seasonally, usually peaking in summer. Correlations between detritivore feeding group densities and amounts of putative food resource were habitat-specific. There were few significant correlations in depositional habitats, even after incorporating lag-times of two and four weeks into the analysis. However, detritivore densities in riffles, especially in the Lerderderg River, were strongly positively correlated with the amounts of BOM. Possibly, physico-chemical conditions in riffles are more conducive to litter conditioning and invertebrate colonization and breakdown of leaf material than are those in pools.

Key words

Eucalypt litter drought floods predators detritivores benthic organic matter intermittent streams Australia