, Volume 37, Issue 2, pp 247-257
Date: 27 Dec 2005

Effects of an Experimental Enrichment of Instream Habitat Heterogeneity on the Stream Bed Morphology and Chironomid Community of a Straightened Section in a Sandy Lowland Stream

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Abstract

A straightened stream stretch with poor habitat heterogeneity was divided into a “control” section with a low amount of submerged woody debris and an experimentally “wood-enriched” downstream section to study the effect of enhanced habitat diversity on the benthic invertebrate community. The downstream section was enriched by fixing 25 wood packages constructed from 9–10 branches on the stream bottom. Succession processes occurring in the two stream sections were compared by chironomid exuviae drift from July to November 2000 and from April to August 2001. During the first sampling period, more drifting chironomid exuviae (medians of control vs. wood-enriched: 446 vs. 331, no significant difference) and total number of taxa (44 vs. 36, Wilcoxon signed-rank test P = 0.019) were recorded for the control section. Although species compositions of both stream sections were highly similar (Sørensen index: 0.83) the diversity in the wood-enriched section was distinctly lower compared to the control section (Shannon–Weaver index: 1.19 vs. 1.50). During the second sampling period, exuviae numbers remained higher in the control section (median: 326 vs. 166), but total numbers of taxa were nearly equal (51 vs. 49), as well as species diversity (Shannon–Weaver index: 1.67 vs. 1.64). The lower chironomid diversity observed during the first sampling period coincided with a gradual but significant change of the streambed morphology in the wood-enriched section. There, the initially more U-shaped profile (V/U = 0.81 ± 0.37) had turned into a pronounced V shape (V/U = 1.14 ± 0.21), whereas the control section retained its unaltered U shape (V/U = 0.62–0.75). This small-scale study on experimental of woody debris in sandy lowland streams showed that the negative impact of increased hydraulic disturbance of the existing streambed more than outweighed any positive impact resulting from the increase in woody debris.