Aquatic Ecology

, Volume 53, Issue 4, pp 607–628 | Cite as

Mesohabitat current velocity effects on Didymosphenia geminata and macroinvertebrates in a SE USA hypolimnetic tailwater

  • Matthew W. GreenEmail author
  • Peter W. BlumIV
  • Stephanie C. Sellers
  • Michael M. Gangloff
  • Luke M. Jacobus
  • Shea R. Tuberty


The diatom Didymosphenia geminata is known to alter benthic habitat and macroinvertebrate diversity and community structure. Associations between macroinvertebrate communities and D. geminata biomass in riffle and run mesohabitats were investigated in the South Fork Holston River in Tennessee and Virginia, USA. We found that low current velocity, low turbidity, and high dissolved oxygen (DO) were strong predictors of D. geminata mat presence. Didymosphenia geminata ash-free dry mass was significantly higher in run mesohabitats with low current velocity (CV) than in riffle mesohabitats with higher CV. Macroinvertebrate alpha diversity (Shannon Diversity H’) was only marginally significantly different between riffle and runs, while beta diversity (community composition) was highly significantly different between these mesohabitats. NMDS analyses found that D. geminata was a relatively unimportant predictor of changes in community structure relative to specific conductance, CV, DO, and turbidity. However, effects of D. geminata on macroinvertebrates appear to be very taxon specific with effects on individual taxa potentially masked by tailwater effects on general macroinvertebrate diversity in global analyses. We observed that taxon-specific effects include, but are not limited to, (1) reduction of bryophyte microhabitat utilized by dominant ephemeropterans, trichopterans, amphipods, coleopterans, and some chironomid genera in run mesohabitats from competition with D. geminata for substrate attachment space; and (2) differences in utilization of D. geminata mat biomass as a food resource and microhabitat for chironomids. Our insights into taxon-specific effects of D. geminata on macroinvertebrates open up multiple avenues for experimentation in which to validate our observational findings.


Didymo Aquatic bryophytes Dolomitic rivers CV South Fork Holston River Upper Tennessee River Valley Nuisance algae 



We thank Frank Smith of Hunter Banks Fly Fishing Company (Grant Nos. #A14-0089-001, #A14-0147-001), Sigma Xi, The International Federation of Fly Fishers (Grant No. #A14-0148-001), The Edgemont Club, LLC. (Grant No. #A15-0094-001), Indiana University Purdue University Columbus, and the Office of Student Research at Appalachian State University for funding various aspects of this project. Megan Maloney assisted with the creation of study site maps; Carmen Blubaugh and Kyle Brumm provided statistical assistance; and Michael Hambourger provided technical assistance in the determination of water nutrient levels. Microscopic examination of algae was performed at the Dewel Microscopy Facility at Appalachian State University. We also thank the following private landowners who kindly granted access to our study sites in the tailwater section: Joe Wilkinson, Kenneth Lasley, Ed Redman, and Victoria Mottern.

Supplementary material

10452_2019_9712_MOESM1_ESM.docx (50 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 51 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Clemson University Arthropod CollectionClemson UniversityClemsonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Forestry and Environmental ConservationClemson UniversityClemsonUSA
  3. 3.School of Environmental StudiesTennessee Technological UniversityCookevilleUSA
  4. 4.Department of BiologyAppalachian State UniversityBooneUSA
  5. 5.Division of ScienceIndiana University Purdue University ColumbusColumbusUSA

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