Aquatic Ecology

, Volume 47, Issue 1, pp 109–121 | Cite as

Productivity–diversity relationships for stream invertebrates differ geographically

  • Jonathan D. Tonkin
  • Russell G. Death
  • José Barquín


More productive environments typically have more species, although the specific form of this relationship is unclear and can vary with spatial scale. This relationship has received little direct attention in lotic systems, and thus the nature of the relationship is unclear, as is any effect of spatial scale. We examined the link between stream primary productivity and macroinvertebrate diversity in Spain and New Zealand and hypothesized that macroinvertebrate diversity would increase log-linearly with increasing productivity in both regions. We sampled 24 streams in Cantabria, Spain, and 24 in the central North Island, New Zealand. Algal primary productivity was approximately three times higher in Spanish streams, but taxonomic richness of invertebrates did not differ between the regions. Richness and Shannon diversity only responded to productivity in the New Zealand streams, exhibiting the predicted log-linear increase. In the Spanish streams, only the total number of individuals increased with productivity. However, when plotted on the same axes, richness in the Spanish streams simply occurred on the linear portion of the graph to the right of the New Zealand streams. We speculate that productivity in the Spanish streams never became low enough to constrain diversity, but did in the New Zealand streams. Combining results from the two regions, there is no evidence of a decline in diversity with higher productivity.


Algae Diversity EPT Lotic Macroinvertebrate New Zealand Periphyton Productivity Richness Spain 



We are grateful to Jessica Costall for help with fieldwork. This manuscript was improved by comments from Angus McIntosh, Ian Henderson, Christopher Robinson, and two anonymous reviewers. A Massey University Doctoral Scholarship supported JDT during the study.


  1. Abrams PA (1995) Monotonic or unimodal diversity productivity gradients—What does competition theory predict. Ecology 76:2019–2027CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Adler PB, Seabloom EW, Borer ET, Hillebrand H, Hautier Y, Hector A, Harpole WS, O’Halloran LR, Grace JB, Anderson TM, Bakker JD, Biederman LA, Brown CS, Buckley YM, Calabrese LB, Chu C-J, Cleland EE, Collins SL, Cottingham KL, Crawley MJ, Damschen EI, Davies KF, DeCrappeo NM, Fay PA, Firn J, Frater P, Gasarch EI, Gruner DS, Hagenah N, Hille Ris Lambers J, Humphries H, Jin VL, Kay AD, Kirkman KP, Klein JA, Knops JMH, La Pierre KJ, Lambrinos JG, Li W, MacDougall AS, McCulley RL, Melbourne BA, Mitchell CE, Moore JL, Morgan JW, Mortensen B, Orrock JL, Prober SM, Pyke DA, Risch AC, Schuetz M, Smith MD, Stevens CJ, Sullivan LL, Wang G, Wragg PD, Wright JP, Yang LH (2011) Productivity is a poor predictor of plant species richness. Science 333:1750–1753PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Akaike H (1974) New look at statistical-model identification. IEEE Trans Auto Cont AC 19:716–723Google Scholar
  4. Barquín J (2004) Spatial patterns of invertebrate communities in spring and runoff-fed streams. PhD thesis, Massey University, New Zealand, Palmerston North, New ZealandGoogle Scholar
  5. Cardinale BJ, Hillebrand H, Charles DF (2006) Geographic patterns of diversity in streams are predicted by a multivariate model of disturbance and productivity. J Ecol 94:609–618CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chase JM, Leibold MA (2002) Spatial scale dictates the productivity-biodiversity relationship. Nature 416:427–430PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Clarke KR (1993) Nonparametric multivariate analyses of changes in community structure. Aust J Ecol 18:117–143CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Clarke KR, Gorley RN (2006) PRIMER v6: User Manual/Tutorial. PRIMER-E, PlymouthGoogle Scholar
  9. Collier KJ, Quinn JM (2003) Land-use influences macroinvertebrate community response following a pulse disturbance. Freshwat Biol 48:1462–1481CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Connell JH (1978) Diversity in tropical rain forests and coral reefs. Science 199:1302–1310PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cummins KW (1962) An evaluation of some techniques for the collection and analysis of benthic samples with special emphasis on lotic waters. Am Midl Nat 67:477–504CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Currie DJ (1991) Energy and large-scale patterns of animal-species and plant-species richness. Am Nat 137:27–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Death RG (1996) The effect of patch disturbance on stream invertebrate community structure: the influence of disturbance history. Oecologia 108:567–576CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Death RG (2002) Predicting invertebrate diversity from disturbance regimes in forest streams. Oikos 97:18–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Death RG (2008) Effects of floods on aquatic invertebrate communities. In: Lancaster J, Briers RA (eds) Insects: Challenges to Populations. CAB International, UK, pp 103–121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Death RG, Barquín J (2012) Geographic location alters the diversity-disturbance response. Freshwat Sci 31:636–646CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Death RG, Winterbourn MJ (1995) Diversity patterns in stream benthic invertebrate communities: the influence of habitat stability. Ecology 76:1446–1460CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Death RG, Zimmermann EM (2005) Interaction between disturbance and primary productivity in determining stream invertebrate diversity. Oikos 111:392–402CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Downes BJ (1990) Patch dynamics and mobility of fauna in streams and other habitats. Oikos 59:411–413CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Dudley TL, Cooper SD, Hemphill N (1986) Effects of macroalgae on a stream invertebrate community. J N Am Benthol Soc 5:93–106CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gaston KJ (2000) Global patterns in biodiversity. Nature 405:220–227PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gillman LN, Wright SD (2006) The influence of productivity on the species richness of plants: a critical assessment. Ecology 87:1234–1243PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Graham AA, McCaughan DJ, McKee FS (1988) Measurement of surface area of stones. Hydrobiologia 157:85–87CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Grime JP (1973) Control of species density in herbaceous vegetation. J Environ Manage 1:151–167Google Scholar
  25. Groner E, Novoplansky A (2003) Reconsidering diversity–productivity relationships: directness of productivity estimates matters. Ecol Lett 6:695–699CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hemphill N, Cooper SD (1983) The effect of physical disturbance on the relative abundances of 2 filter-feeding insects in a small stream. Oecologia 58:378–382CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hubbell SP (2001) The Unified Neutral Theory of Biodiversity and Biogeography. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJGoogle Scholar
  28. Huston M (1979) A general hypothesis of species diversity. Am Nat 113:81–100CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Huston M (1994) Biological Diversity: The Coexistence of Species on Changing Landscapes. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UKGoogle Scholar
  30. Lake PS (2000) Disturbance, patchiness, and diversity in streams. J N Am Benthol Soc 19:573–592CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Leibold MA (1999) Biodiversity and nutrient enrichment in pond plankton communities. Evol Ecol Res 1:73–95Google Scholar
  32. Lenat DR (1988) Water quality assessment of streams using a qualitative collection method for benthic invertebrates. J N Am Benthol Soc 7:222–233CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Mackey RL, Currie DJ (2001) The diversity-disturbance relationship: is it generally strong and peaked? Ecology 82:3479–3492Google Scholar
  34. McAuliffe JR (1984) Competition for space, disturbance, and the structure of a benthic stream community. Ecology 65:894–908CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Milner AM, Petts GE (1994) Glacial rivers - physical habitat and ecology. Freshwat Biol 32:295–307CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Mittelbach GG, Steiner CF, Scheiner SM, Gross KL, Reynolds HL, Waide RB, Willig MR, Dodson SI, Gough L (2001) What is the observed relationship between species richness and productivity? Ecology 82:2381–2396CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Morin A, Lamourex W, Busnarda J (1999) Empirical models predicting primary productivity from chlorophyll a and water temperature for stream periphyton and lake and ocean phytoplankton. J N Am Benthol Soc 18:299–307CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Peterson BJ, Hobbie JE, Hershey AE, Lock MA, Ford TE, Vestal JR, McKinley VL, Hullar MAJ, Miller MC, Ventullo RM, Volk GS (1985) Transformation of a tundra river from heterotrophy to autotrophy by addition of phosphorus. Science 229:1383–1386PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Pfankuch DJ (1975) Stream Reach Inventory and Channel Stability Evaluation. USDA Forest Service, Region 1, Missoula, MontanaGoogle Scholar
  40. Quinn JM, Hickey CW (1990) Characterisation and classification of benthic invertebrate communities in 88 New Zealand rivers in relation to environmental factors. N Z J Mar Freshwat Res 24:387–409CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. R Development Core Team (2012) R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation of Statistical Computing, Vienna, AustriaGoogle Scholar
  42. Reice SR (1985) Experimental disturbance and the maintenance of species-diversity in a stream community. Oecologia 67:90–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Resh VH, Brown AV, Covich AP, Gurtz ME, Li HW, Minshall GW, Reice SR, Sheldon AL, Wallace JB, Wissmar RC (1988) The role of disturbance in stream ecology. J N Am Benthol Soc 7:433–455CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Rosenzweig ML (1995) Species Diversity in Space and Time. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UKCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Rosenzweig ML, Abramsky Z (1993) How are Diversity and Productivity Related? In: Ricklefs RE, Schluter D (eds) Species Diversity in Biological Communities. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois, USA, pp 52–65Google Scholar
  46. Scholes L, Warren PH, Beckerman AP (2005) The combined effects of energy and disturbance on species richness in protist microcosms. Ecol Lett 8:730–738CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Steinman AD, Lamberti GA (1996) Biomass and pigments of benthic algae. In: Hauer FR, Lamberti GA (eds) Methods in Stream Ecology. Academic Press, San Diego, CA, pp 295–314Google Scholar
  48. Tachet H, Richoux P, Bournaud M, Usseglio-Polatera P (2000) Invertebres d’eau douce. Systematique, biologie, ecologie. CNRS Editions, ParisGoogle Scholar
  49. Tonkin JD (2010) The effects of productivity and disturbance on diversity in stream communities. PhD thesis, Massey University, New ZealandGoogle Scholar
  50. Tonkin JD, Death RG (2012) Consistent effects of productivity and disturbance on diversity between landscapes. Ecosphere 3(11):108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Tonkin JD, Death RG, Collier KJ (2013) Do productivity and disturbance interact to modulate macroinvertebrate diversity in streams? Hydrobiologia 701:159–172Google Scholar
  52. Towns DR, Peters WL (1996) Leptophlebiidae (Insecta: Ephemeroptera), vol 36. Manaaki Whenua Press, Lincoln, New Zealand, Fauna of New ZealandGoogle Scholar
  53. Townsend CR, Scarsbrook MR, Doledec S (1997) The intermediate disturbance hypothesis, refugia, and biodiversity in streams. Limnol Oceanogr 42:938–949CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Waide RB, Willig MR, Steiner CF, Mittelbach G, Gough L, Dodson SI, Juday GP, Parmenter R (1999) The relationship between productivity and species richness. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 30:257–300CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Wentworth CK (1922) A scale of grade and class terms for clastic sediments. J Geol 30:377–392CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Winterbourn MJ, Collier KJ (1987) Distribution of benthic invertebrates in acid, brown water streams in the South Island of New Zealand. Hydrobiologia 153:277–286CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Winterbourn MJ, Gregson KLD, Dolphin CH (2000) Guide to the aquatic insects of New Zealand. Entomological Society of New Zealand, AucklandGoogle Scholar
  58. Wolman MJ (1954) A method of sampling coarse river bed material. Trans Am Geophys Un 35:951–956CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Wootton JT (1998) Effects of disturbance on species diversity: a multitrophic perspective. Am Nat 152:803–825PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jonathan D. Tonkin
    • 1
    • 3
  • Russell G. Death
    • 1
  • José Barquín
    • 2
  1. 1.Agriculture and Environment—Ecology (PN-624)Massey UniversityPalmerston NorthNew Zealand
  2. 2.Environmental Hydraulics InstituteUniversity of CantabriaSantanderSpain
  3. 3.Department of Environmental ScienceXi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool UniversitySuzhouPR China

Personalised recommendations