, Volume 389, Issue 1-3, pp 73-88

Stream community structure in relation to spatial variation: the influence of mesohabitat characteristics

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Community structure of benthic macroinvertebrates was studied in six first- through fourth-order streams in northeast France, to elucidate changes in richness, abundance, diversity and evenness of mesohabitat assemblages as a function of environmental conditions. Patch samples were subjected to multivariate analyses to determine: (i) relationships among seven indices describing community structure (structure parameters); (ii) relationships among seven environmental variables; (iii) the relationship between community structure and environmental characteristics of patches. Faunal data showed that indices measuring the distribution of individuals among taxa (evenness, dominance) and richness are prominent in describing the structure of macroinvertebrate communities of mesohabitats. The analysis of environmental data demonstrated a major differentiating ability of current velocity and strong inter-relations among in-stream hydraulic-dependent parameters in structuring the mesohabitat environment. The co-structure (= relationship) between community organization and environmental variables indicated that substrate may be a primary determinant of community structure. Current velocity and water depth emerged as secondary factors. Trends in community structure were closely related to the spatial variability of mesohabitats. Species richness increased with habitat heterogeneity. Total abundance increased with trophic potentialities of patches. Equitability and diversity seemed to increase with patch stability.