Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Morphological adaptations of benthic invertebrates to stream flow — An old question studied by means of a new technique (Laser Doppler Anemometry)


The generally accepted concept that dorsoventral flatness and/or small size of benthic stream invertebrates staying on the surface of the bottom substratum allows a current-sheltered life in the boundary layer (Ambühl 1959) is checked by means of the new technique of Laser Doppler Anemometry (LDA). With LDA measurement of flow can be done nearly punctually without any mechanical disturbance. Mapping the current velocities around the body of Ecdyonurus cf. venosus (Insecta, Ephemeroptera) and Ancylus fluviatilis (Gastropoda) gives evidence that boundary layer separation occurs above the animals' bodies. Our results indicate that the velocities around the body of benthic stream invertebrates and probably the forces acting on them are much more complicate than is suggested by the currently accepted boundary layer concept.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Ambühl H (1959) Die Bedeutung der Strömung als ökologischer Faktor. Schweiz Z Hydrol 21:133–264

  2. Butz I (1979) Strömungsverhalten von Ecdyonurus venosus (Fabr.) (Ephemeroptera). Proc 2nd Internat Conf Ephemeroptera 1975 Krakow:199–212

  3. Décamps H, Capblancq J, Hirigoyen JP (1972) Etude des conditions d'écoulement près du substrat en canal expérimental. Verh Internat Verein Limnol 18:718–725

  4. Décamps H, Larrouy G, Trivellato D (1975) Approche hydrodynamique de la microdistribution d'invertébrés benthiques en eau courante. Annls Limnol 11:79–100

  5. Durst F, Melling A, Whitelaw A (1981) Principles and practice of Laser-Doppler-Anemometry, 2nd ed. Academic Press, London

  6. Hynes HBN (1972) The ecology of running waters (2nd impr). Liverpool University Press, Liverpool

  7. Illies J (1961 a) Versuch einer allgemeinen biozönotischen Gliederung der Fließgewässer. Int Rev Ges Hydrobiol 46:205–213

  8. Illies J (1961 b) Gebirgsbäche in Europa und Südamerika — ein limnologischer Vergleich. Verh Internat Verein Limnol 14:517–523

  9. Illies J (1961 c) Die Lebensgemeinschaft des Bergbaches. Ziemsen, Wittenberg Lutherstadt

  10. Moss B (1980) Ecology of fresh waters. Blackwell Sci Publ, Oxford

  11. Nielsen A (1950) The torrential invertebrate fauna. Oikos 2:176–196.

  12. Ruttner F (1940) Grundriss der Limnologie. De Gruyter & Co. Berlin

  13. Schwoerbel J (1980) Einführung in die Limnologie, 4. Aufl. Fischer, Stuttgart

  14. Smith JA, Dartnall AJ (1980) Boundary layer control by water pennies (Coleoptera: Psephenidae). Aquatic Insects 2:65–72

  15. Statzner B (1981 a) The relation between “hydraulic stress” and microdistribution of benthic macroinvertebrates in a lowland running water system, the Schierenseebrocks (North Germany). Arch Hydrobiol 91:192–218

  16. Statzner B (1981 b) A method to estimate the population size of benthic macroinvertebrates in streams. Oecologia (Berl) 51:157–161

  17. Steinmann P (1907) Die Tierwelt der Gebirgsbäche. Annls Biol Lacustre 2:30–150

  18. Streit B (1980) Ökologie. Thieme, Stuttgart

  19. Thienemann A (1926) Die Binnengewässer Mitteleuropas. Die Binnengewässer 1. Schweizerbart, Stuttgart

  20. Townsend CR (1980) The ecology of streams and rivers. Arnold, London

  21. Wesenberg-Lund C (1943) Biologie der Süßwasserinsekten. Gyldendalske, Kopenhagen, and Springer, Berlin

Download references

Author information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Statzner, B., Holm, T.F. Morphological adaptations of benthic invertebrates to stream flow — An old question studied by means of a new technique (Laser Doppler Anemometry). Oecologia 53, 290–292 (1982).

Download citation


  • Boundary Layer
  • Stream Flow
  • Current Velocity
  • Benthic Invertebrate
  • Gastropoda