Do seasonal changes in habitat features influence aquatic macroinvertebrate assemblages in perennial versus temporary Mediterranean streams?
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In this study we examined the importance of seasonal changes in habitat features and aquatic macroinvertebrate responses in temporary and perennial streams from two different catchments in the Western Mediterranean region in Spain. Macroinvertebrate sampling was spatially intensive to account for the relative frequency of meso- (i.e., riffles and pools) and micro-habitats (i.e., different mineral and organic-based substrata) at each site. Samples were collected at two distinctly different phases of the hydrograph: (1) during the flowing period, when pool-riffle sequences were well-established, and (2) during the dry phase, when only isolated pools were expected to occur in the temporary streams. During the dry season, both a reduction in the available total habitat and in microhabitat diversity in all sites studied was observed. As a result, taxon richness decreased in all streams, but more dramatically at temporary stream sites and particularly so in the infrequently remaining discontinuous riffles. Macroinvertebrate assemblages differed among catchments (i.e., geographical identity) and sites (perennial vs. temporary). Invertebrate differences were also strong within and among meso- and micro-habitats, particularly mineral and organic microhabitat patches, and differences were due to both loss of taxa from some habitats and some taxa exhibiting certain habitat affinities.
KeywordsAquatic macroinvertebrates Habitat features Mediterranean climate Temporary streams Undisturbed conditions
This study is framed within the Mediterranean Intermittent River MAnaGEment project FP7-ENV-2007-1 (MIRAGE), which is supported by funding from the specific programme ‘Cooperation’, theme ‘Environment (including Climate Change)’ under the 7th Research Framework Programme of the European Union. Investigations in the Vallcebre Research Catchments are supported by the Probase (CGL2006-11619 /HID), Montes (CSD2008-00040) and RespHiMed (CGL2010-18374) projects, funded by the Spanish Government. J. Latron was the beneficiary of a research contract (Ramón y Cajal program) funded by the ‘Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación’. We would also like to thank P. Fortuño, I. Verkaik, N. Sánchez and I. Navarro for field assistance. The authors are also grateful to D. Arscott and an anonymous referee whose comments contributed to substantially improve the paper.
Conflict of interest
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