, Volume 42, Issue 3, pp 463-481
Date: 15 May 2007

Relationship between benthic insects (Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, Coleoptera, Trichoptera) and temperature in small and medium-sized streams in Germany: A multivariate study

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Benthic insect communities (Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, Coleoptera, Trichoptera) were studied together with water temperature and environmental parameters in streams between June 2000 and June 2001. The sampling area consisted of 20 sites in small and medium-sized streams located in the lower mountainous area of Central Europe. Temperature was recorded nearly continuously and several physicochemical and environmental variables were assessed. Macroinvertebrates were sampled both in spring and summer. Data-sets of species abundance and occurrence were analysed using multivariate techniques and were correlated to the thermal and environmental conditions of the streams. The temperature preferences of the species were compared to published data-sets on their autecological characteristics. Up to 29% of the variability in the Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, Trichoptera and Coleoptera community was explained by summer temperature variation in the data-sets for both small and medium-sized streams. A smaller, but significant part of the variability in species distribution was explained by conductivity, substratum type, and the percent coverage of local riparian forest. Compared to small streams, temperature was less important for the macroinvertebrate composition in medium-sized streams. This result is likely due to the more tolerant, eurythermic species composition in larger streams. A total of 33 Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, Coleoptera and Trichoptera taxa were positively correlated and 28 taxa were negatively correlated to summer temperature patterns. The temperature preferences of taxa considered in this study were related to species traits, such as egg dormancies and life cycle plasticity.