, Volume 510, Issue 1-3, pp 53-66

The influence of habitat structure and flow permanence on invertebrate communities in karst spring systems

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Abstract

The macroinvertebrate fauna of five karst (limestone) springbrook systems with contrasting physical habitat and discharge patterns were investigated to examine the role of flow permanence and habitat structure on macroinvertebrate community composition. Clear physical differences were identified between perennial and intermittent springs and individual sampling stations. However, flow permanence, water temperature and the input of leaf litter exerted a greater influence on the aquatic invertebrate community than habitat structure. Perennial sites were characterised by a greater abundance of macroinvertebrates and greater Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera and Trichoptera (EPT) richness than intermittent sites. The fauna of all of the springbrook systems examined were dominated by relatively common and ubiquitous taxa (e.g. Gammarus pulex) although a number of taxa displaying life cycle adaptations to ephemeral aquatic habitats (e.g. Limnephilus auricula and Stenophylax permistus) were recorded at intermittent sites.