Advertisement

Oecologia

, Volume 89, Issue 2, pp 182–194 | Cite as

Response of invertebrates to lotic disturbance: a test of the hyporheic refuge hypothesis

  • M. A. Palmer
  • A. E. Bely
  • K. E. Berg
Original Papers

Summary

Recovery following hydrological disturbances is usually rapid for lotic invertebrates. Stream ecologists have assumed that recovery is facilitated by behavioral migrations during floods down into the hyporheic zone (the interstitial spaces of a streambed) to seek temporary refuge from possible erosion (the “hyporheic refuge hypothesis”). We provide the first explicit test of this hypothesis by evaluating three predictions of the hypothesis. We coupled field observations of the response of meiofaunal invertebrates to floods with field and flume experiments. The study site was a sandy-bottom stream in northern Virginia. Prediction 1, that loss of fauna from a streambed during floods should be minimal as long as the depth of scour in the streambed is less than the depth of the hyporheic zone, was not supported for any taxon. For two floods which varied considerably in magnitude, 50–90% of the fauna was lost from the bed despite the fact that the depth of scour (10–30 cm) was significantly less than the total depth of the hyporheic zone (50 cm). Prediction 2, that fauna should move deeper into the bed at higher flows, was supported by field observations during only one of two floods and then only for rotifers. In flume experiments that tested for finer scale behavioral movements, significant vertical migrations were found for copepods and chironomids which moved 1.5–3.5 cm downward as mean velocity (3 cm off bottom) was increased from 5–23 cm/s. Movements down by rotifers were not found in the flume experiments. Prediction 3, that the hyporheic zone is the most important source of colonists to defaunated areas, was supported in part by field experiments. The hyporheic route was not the primary route for any taxon but it was as important for the rotifers and copepods as water column or streambed surface routes. We conclude that, even though smallscale (cm's) migrations into the streambed in response to increased flow may be observed for some taxa and the hyporheic zone may serve as a partial source of colonists following disturbances, movements down are not adequate in preventing significant losses of meiofauna during floods.

Key words

Hyporheic Refuge Floods Streams Meiofauna 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Abrahamson WG, Caswell H (1982) On the comparative allocation of biomass, energy, and nutrients in plants. Ecology 63:982–991Google Scholar
  2. Bell SS, Sherman KS (1980) Tidal resuspension as a mechanism for meiofauna dispersal. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 3:245–249Google Scholar
  3. Bilby RE (1981) Role of organic debris dams in regulating the export of dissolved and particulate matter from a forested watershed. Ecology 62:1234–1243Google Scholar
  4. Bishop JE (1973) Observations on the vertical distribution of the benthos in a Malaysian stream. Freshw Biol 3:147–156Google Scholar
  5. Butman CA (1986) Sediment trap biases in turbulent flows: results from a laboratory flume study. J Mar Res 44:645–693Google Scholar
  6. Chandler GT, Fleeger JW (1983) Meiofaunal colonization of azoic estuarine sediments in Louisiana: mechanisms of dispersal. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 69:175–188Google Scholar
  7. Connell JH, Sousa WP (1983) On the evidence needed to judge ecological stability or persistence Am Nat 121:789–824Google Scholar
  8. Cushing CE, Gaines WL (1989) Thoughts on recolonization of endorheic cold desert spring streams. J N Am Benthol Soc 8:277–287Google Scholar
  9. D'Amours D (1988) Vertical distribution and abundance of natant harpacticoid copepods on a vegetated tidal flat. Neth J Sea Res 22:161–170Google Scholar
  10. Delucchi CM (1989) Movement patterns of invertebrates in temporary and permanent streams. Oecologia 78:199–207Google Scholar
  11. Denny MW (1988) Biology and the wave-swept environment. Princeton Univ Press Princeton 325 ppGoogle Scholar
  12. Fegley SR (1987) Experimental variation of near-bottom current speeds and its effects on depth distribution of sand-living meiofauna. Mar Biol 95:183–191Google Scholar
  13. Fegley SR (1988) A comparison of meiofaunal settlement onto the sediment surface and recolonization of defaunated sandy sediment. J Exp mar Biol Ecol 123:97–113Google Scholar
  14. Fisher SG (1983) Succession in streams. In: Barnes JR, Minshall GW (eds) Stream Ecology: Application & Testing of General Ecological Theory. Plenum Press, NY, pp 7–27Google Scholar
  15. Fisher SG (1990) Recovery processes in lotic ecosystems: limits of successinal theory. Environ Managem 14:725–736Google Scholar
  16. Giller PS, Cambell RNB (1989) Colonisation patterns of mayfly nymphs (Ephemeroptera) on implanted substrate trays of different size. Hydrobiologia 178:59–71Google Scholar
  17. Goldstein RJ (1983) Fluid mechanics measurements. Hemisphere Publ Co, NY, 630 ppGoogle Scholar
  18. Gray LJ, Fisher SG (1981) Post flood recolonization pathways of macroinvertebrates in a lowland Sonoran desert stream. Am Midl Natur 106:249–257Google Scholar
  19. Hagerman GM, Rieger RM (1981) Dispersal of benthic meiofauna by wave and current action in Bogue Sound, North Carolina, U.S.A. Mar Ecol Publ Staz Napoli 2:245–270Google Scholar
  20. Heip C (1972) Reproductive potential of copepods in brackish water. Mar Biol 12:219–221Google Scholar
  21. Hildrew AG, Dobson MK, Groom A, Ibbotson A, Lancaster J, Rundle SD (1990) Flow and retention in the ecology of stream invertebrates. Verh Internat Verein LimnolGoogle Scholar
  22. Howard RK (1985) Measurements of short-term turnover of epifauna within seagrass beds using an in situ staining method. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 22:163–168Google Scholar
  23. Juget J, Goubier V, Barthelemy D (1989) Intrinsic and extrinsic variables controlling the productivity of asexual populations of Nais spp. Hydrobiologia 180:177–184Google Scholar
  24. Kirk RE (1982) Experimental design: procedures for the behavioral sciences. 2nd edn. Brooks/Cole Publ Co, LondonGoogle Scholar
  25. Lefkovitch LP, Fahrig L (1985) Spatial characteristics of habitat patches and population survival. Ecol Model 30:297–308Google Scholar
  26. Leopold L, Wolman MG, Miller JR (1964) Fluvial processes in geomorphology. Freeman Press, San FranciscoGoogle Scholar
  27. Lochhead G, Learner MA (1983) The effect of temperature on the asexual population growth of three species of Naididae. Hydrobiologia 98:107–112Google Scholar
  28. Marchant R (1988) Vertical distribution of benthic invertebrates in the bed of the Thomson River, Victoria. Aust J Mar Freshw Res 39:775–784Google Scholar
  29. Marmonier R, Creuze des Chatelliers M (1991) Effects of spates on interstitial assemblages of the Rhone River: importance of spatial heterogeneity. Hydrobiologia 210:243–251Google Scholar
  30. McElhone MJ (1978) A population study of littoral dwelling Naididae (Oligochaeta) in a shallow mesotrophic lake in North Wales. J Anim Ecol 47:615–626Google Scholar
  31. Menge BA, Sutherland JP (1987) Community regulation: variation in disturbance, competition, and predation in relation to environmental stress and recruitment. Am Natur 130:730–757Google Scholar
  32. Metzler GM, Smock LA (1990) Storage and dynamics of detritus in a sand-bottomed stream. Can J Fish Aq Sci 47:588–594Google Scholar
  33. Minshall GW, Andrews DA, Manuel-Faler CY (1983) Application of island biogeographic theory to streams: macroinvertebrate recolonization of the Teton River, Idaho. In: Barnes JR, Minshall GW (eds) Stream Ecology: application and testing of general ecological theory Plenum Press, New York pp 279–297Google Scholar
  34. Minshall GW, Cummins KW, Peterson RC, Cushing CE, Bruns DA, Sedell JR, Vannote RL (1985) Developments in stream ecosystem theory. Can J Fish Aquatic Sci 42:1045–1055Google Scholar
  35. Naiman RJ (1982) Characteristics of sediment & organic carbon export from pristine boreal forest watersheds. Can J Fish Aquatic Sci 39:1699–1718Google Scholar
  36. O'Doherty EC (1985) Stream-dwelling copepods: their life history and ecological significance. Limnol Oceanogr 30:554–564Google Scholar
  37. O'Doherty EC (1988) The ecology of meiofauna in an Appalachian head-water stream. Ph. D. disseration. Univ. Georgia. 113 ppGoogle Scholar
  38. Okubo A (1984) Critical patch size for plankton and patchiness. In: Levin SA, Hallam TG (eds) Mathematical Ecology. Lecture notes in Biomathematics, vol 54, Springer Berlin, pp 456–477Google Scholar
  39. Paine R (1966) Food web complexity and species diversity. Am Nat 100:65–75Google Scholar
  40. Palmer MA (1988a) Dispersal of marine meiofauna: a review and conceptual model explaining passive transport and active emergence with implications for recruitment. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 48:81–91Google Scholar
  41. Palmer MA (1988b) Marine meiofauna and epibenthic predators: separating predation, disturbance, and hydrodynamic effects. Ecology 69:1251–1259Google Scholar
  42. Palmer MA (1990a) Temporal and spatial dynamics of meiofauna within the hyporheic zone of Goose Creek, Virginia. J N Am Benthol Soc 9:17–25Google Scholar
  43. Palmer MA (1990b) Understanding the movement dynamics of a stream-dwelling meiofauna community using marine analogs. Stygologia 5:67–74Google Scholar
  44. Palmer MA (1992) Incorporating lotic meiofauna into our understanding of faunal transport dynamics. Limno. Oceanogr.Google Scholar
  45. Palmer MA, Gust G (1985) Dispersal of meiofauna in a turbulent tidal creek. J Mar Res 43:179–210Google Scholar
  46. Palmer MA, Molloy RM (1986) Flow and the vertical distribution of meiofauna: a flume experiment. Estuaries 9:225–228Google Scholar
  47. Pickett STA, White PS (1985) The ecology of natural disturbance and patch dynamics. Academic Press, Inc. Orlando. 427 ppGoogle Scholar
  48. Poff NL, Ward JV (1990) Physical habitat template of lotic systems: recovery in the context of historical pattern of spatiotemporal heterogeneity. Environ Managem 14:629–645Google Scholar
  49. Poole WL, Stewart KW (1976) The vertical distribution of macrobenthos within the substratum of the Brazos River, Texas. Hydrobiologia 50:151–160Google Scholar
  50. Power ME, Stewart AJ (1987) Disturbance and recovery of an algal assemblage following flooding in an Oklahoma stream. Am Midl Natur 177:333–345Google Scholar
  51. Pringle CM, Naiman RJ, Bretschko G, Karr JR, Oswood MW, Webster JR, Welcomme RL, Winterbourn RL (1988) Patch dynamics in lotic systems: the stream as a mosiac. J N Am Benthol Soc 7:503–524Google Scholar
  52. Reice SR (1985) Experimental disturbance and the maintenance of species diversity in a stream community. Oecologia 67:90–97Google Scholar
  53. Reice SR, Wissmar RC, Naiman RJ (1990) Disturbance regimes, resilience, & recovery of animal communities & habitats in lotic ecosystems. Environm Managem 14:647–659Google Scholar
  54. Resh VH, Brown AV, Covich AP, Gurtz ME, Li HW, Minshall GW, Reice SR, Sheldon AL, Wallace JB, Wissman RC (1988). The role of disturbance in stream ecology. J N Am Benthol Soc 7:433–455Google Scholar
  55. Rhoads DC, Aller RC, Goldhaber MB (1977) The influence of colonizing benthos on physical properties and chemical diagenesis of the estuarine seafloor. In: Coull BC (ed) Ecol Marine Benthos. Univ SC Press, Columbia, pp 113–138Google Scholar
  56. Rhoads DC, Yingst JY, Ullman WJ (1978) Seafloor stability in Central Long Island Sound. Part I. Temporal changes in erodibility of find-grained sediment. In: Wiley ML (ed) Estuarine Interactions. Academic Press, New York, pp 221–242Google Scholar
  57. SAS Institute, Inc (1985) Sas User's Guide: Statistics. Version 5 Edn. Sas Institute Inc., CaryGoogle Scholar
  58. Schlichting H (1979) Boundary Layer Theory. 7th edn, McGraw-Hill, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  59. Sedell JR, Reeves GH, Hauer FR, Stanford JA, Hawkins CP (1990) Role of refugia in recovery from disturbances: modern fragmented and disconnected river systems. Environ Manage 14:711–724Google Scholar
  60. Sherman KS, Coull BC (1980) The response of meiofauna to sediment disturbance. J Exp mar Biol Ecol 46:59–71Google Scholar
  61. Sleath JFA (1984) Sea Bed Mechanics. John Wiley & Sons, New York, 335 ppGoogle Scholar
  62. Sousa WP (1984) The role of disturbance in natural communities. Ann Rev Ecol Syst 15:353–391Google Scholar
  63. Townsend CR, Hildrew AG (1976) Field experiments on the drifting, colonisation and continuous redistribution of stream benthos. J Anim Ecol 45:759–773Google Scholar
  64. Wallace JB (1990) Recovery of lotic macroinvertebrate communities from disturbance. Environm Managem 14:605–620Google Scholar
  65. Walters K, Bell SS (1986) Diel patterns of active vertical migration in seagrass meiofauna. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 34:95–103Google Scholar
  66. Ward JV, Voelz NJ (1990) Gradient analysis of interstitial meiofauna along a longitudinal stream profile. Stygologia 5:93–99Google Scholar
  67. Williams DD (1984) The hyporheic zone as a habitat for aquatic insects and associated arthropods. In: Resh VH, Rosenberg DM (eds). The Ecology of Aquatic Insects. Praeger, New York, pp 430–455Google Scholar
  68. Williams DD, Hynes HBN (1974) The occurrence of benthos deep in the substratum of a stream. Freshw Biol 4:233–256Google Scholar
  69. Winkler G Debris dams and retention in a low order stream. Verh Limnol 24:Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. A. Palmer
    • 1
  • A. E. Bely
    • 1
  • K. E. Berg
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA

Personalised recommendations