, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 747-761

The Use of Fossil Caddisfly Assemblages in the Reconstruction of Flow Environments from Floodplain Paleochannels of the River Trent, England

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Abstract

This paper examines the use of fossil larval trichopteran communities to investigate and describe the flow environment of a paleochannel network in the middle reaches of the River Trent floodplain (UK). Previous research utilising fossil insect communities (principally O. Coleoptera, O. Chironomidae) has focussed upon climate reconstruction. However, larval trichopteran communities (O. Trichoptera) also offer an aquatic signal, giving information regarding channel habitat structure and flow environments. The taxonomic diversity of each fossil community and the categorisation of each taxon into a known flow group, using the “LIFE” methodology, facilitates the reconstruction of the river flow conditions at each site based upon known faunal associations with mean flow velocity. A total of 49 trichopteran taxa were recorded from 17 paleochannels (n = 170 samples). Detrended Correspondence Analysis (DCA) identified a environmental gradient on the first DCA axis that reflected variability in flow, from rapid/fast flow to slow flowing and standing water habitats. In addition, two distinct faunal groups were identified on the second DCA axis characteristic of (i) small nutrient rich lentic habitats; and (ii) larger water bodies displaying features of both lentic, lotic and ephemeral habitats where marginal vegetation is abundant on a mineral substratum. The results demonstrate that larval Trichoptera can be used in paleolimnological research to reconstruct a flow signal and provide additional information regarding the aquatic habitat structure. Their wider use in describing the aquatic environment, in association with other proxies (e.g., Chironomidae and Coleoptera), may provide a more holistic understanding of floodplain paleoenvironment succession.