, Volume 539, Issue 1, pp 137-147

Habitat characteristics and the distribution of Odonata in a lowland river catchment in eastern England

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The influence of habitat characteristics on the distribution of larval and adult Odonata communities in a lowland river in eastern England was studied. There was a longitudinal distribution of Odonata, with larval assemblages being influenced directly by marginal flow velocity, biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and phosphate concentrations and indirectly by shade and cover of floating vegetation. Adult populations responded directly to shade, reed cover, amenity-managed land use and bank height, and indirectly to BOD and ammonia concentrations. Distribution patterns were strongly associated with both natural changes along the river system and management impacts. River management practices locally disrupted the natural displacement of species along the river, but whilst some forms of human interference on river systems were beneficial to species richness, the effects on stenotopic species were disadvantageous. To conserve Odonata management emphasis should be on the maintenance of suitable conditions for river specialists.