Biodiversity & Conservation

, Volume 14, Issue 6, pp 1525–1539 | Cite as

Plecoptera response to acidification in several headwater streams in the Vosges Mountains (northeastern France)

  • Guillaume Tixier
  • François GuéroldEmail author


Plecoptera are among the most threatened aquatic invertebrates in industrialised countries as they are very sensitive to many types of pollution. On the contrary, stoneflies are largely considered as tolerant to acidification in comparison with many other macroinvertebrate groups. However, an understanding of Plecoptera responses to acidification is lacking due firstly to the complexity of most Nemouroidea specific determinations at larval instars and secondly to the poor Plecoptera diversity in North European countries, where most studies on acidification impact were performed. In the present study, we assess the response of Plecoptera species and species assemblages to freshwater acidification by collecting adults, allowing specific determination. Significant relationships were observed between richness and several chemical parameters. The relative abundance of several species was also significantly correlated to pH and acid neutralizing capacity (ANC). The results highlight the importance of species determination to assess the effects of acidification. Direct effects, i.e. ecotoxicological effects, were not the only factor leading to the erosion of Plecoptera diversity. Finally, this study tends to demonstrate that this order of aquatic insects is more severely affected by freshwater acidification than commonly believed.


Diversity Freshwater acidification Headwater streams Plecoptera Species assemblage 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Alewell, C., Manderscheid, B., Meesenburg, H., Bittersohl, J. 2000Is acidification still an ecological threat?Nature407856857PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Almer, B., Dickson, W., Ekström, C., Hörnström, E., Miller, U. 1974Effect of acidification on Swedish lakesAmbio33036Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Aubert, J. 1963les Plécoptères des VosgesLe Hohneck,  eds. Association philomatique d’Alsace et de Lorraine Aspects physiques, biologiques et humainsStrasbourgFrance187291Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Buckton, S.T., Brewin, P.A., Lewis, A., Stevens, P., Ormerod, S.J. 1998The distribution of dippers, Cinclus cinclus (L.), in the acid-sensitive region of Wales, 1984–95Freshwater Biology39387396Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Collier, K.J., Winterbourn, M.J. 1990Structure of epilithon in some acidic and circumneutral streams in South WestlandNew ZealandN.Z. Natural Science17111Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Dangles, O. 2002Functional plasticity of benthic macroinvertebrates: implications for trophic dynamics in acid streamsCanadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences59111Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Elliott, J.M. 1987Egg hatching and resource partitioning in Stoneflies – the 6 British Leuctra spp. (PlecopteraLeuctridae)Journal of Animal Ecology56415426Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Favrel, C. 1997Effects of freshwater acidification on the ionic regulation of Dinocras cephalotes (Plecoptera; Perlidae)Landolt, P.Sartori, M. eds. Ephemeroptera and Plecoptera: Biology–Ecology–SystematicsMauron, Tinguely & LachatFribourg, Switzerland382388Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Feldman, R.S., Connor, E.F. 1992The relationship between pH and community structure of invertebrates in streams of the Shenandoah National Park, VirginiaUSAFreshwater Biology27261276Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Felten, V., Guérold, F. 2001Hyperventilation and loss of hemolymph Na+ and Cl in the freshwater amphipod Gammarus fossarum exposed to acid stress: a preliminary studyDis. Aquat. Organisms457780Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Fjellheim, A., Raddum, G.G. 2001Acidification and liming of River Vikedal, Western Norway. A 20 year study of responses in the benthic invertebrate faunaWater Air Soil Pollution13013791384Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Frick, K.G. 1990Ecophysiological effects of pH and aluminium on lotic mayfliesPrinted by Grahns BoktryckeriLund UniversitySwedenGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Glooschenko, V., Downes, C., Frank, R., Braun, H.E., Addison, E.M., Hickie, J. 1988Cadmium levels in Ontario moose and deer in relation to soil sensitivity to acid precipitationScience of the Total Environment71173186PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Grahn, O. 1986Vegetation structure and primary production in acidified lakes in Southwestern SwedenExperimentia42465470Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Griffith, M.B., Perry, S.A. 1993Colonization and processing of leaf litter by macroinvertebrate shredders in streams of contrasting pHFreshwater Biology3093103Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Griffith, M.B., Barrows, E.M., Perry, S.A. 1998Lateral dispersal of adult aquatic insects (PlecopteraTrichoptera) following emergence from headwater streams in forested Appalachian CatchmentsAnnals of the Entomological Society of America91195201Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Guérold, F., Vein, D., Jacquemin, G., Moreteau, J.C. 1993Les peuplements d’Ephéméroptères de Plécoptères et de Trichoptères des ruisseaux acides et non acides du massif vosgien: première approcheRevue des Sciences de l’ Eau4299314Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Guérold, F., Giamberini, L., Tourman, J.L., Pihan, J.C., Kaufmann, R. 1995Occurrence of aluminium in chloride cells of Perla marginata (Plecoptera) after exposure to low pH and elevated aluminium concentrationBulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology54260265Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Guérold, F., Boudot, J.P., Jacquemin, G., Vein, D., Merlet, D., Rouiller, J. 2000Macroinvertebrate community loss as a result of headwater stream acidification in the Vosges Mountains (N-E France)Biodiversity and Conservation9767783CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Hall, R.J., Likens, G.E., Fiance, S.B., Hendrey, G.R. 1980Experimental acidification of a stream in the Hubbard brook experimental forestNew HampshireEcology6976989Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Hämäläinen, H., Huttunen, P. 1990Estimation of acidity in streams by means of benthic invertebrates: evaluation of two methodsKauppi, P.Anttila, P.Kenttämies, K. eds. Acidification in FinlandSpringerBerlin, Germany10511070Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Harmanen, M. 1980Der Einflus saurer Gewässer auf den Bestand der Ephemeriden und PlecopterenfaunaGewässer und Abwässer66/67130136Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Harriman, R., Morrison, B.R.S. 1982Ecology of streams draining forested and non-forested catchments in an area of central Scotland subject to acid precipitationHydrobiologia88251263Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Harvey H.H., Dillon P.J., Kramer J.R., Pierce R.C. and Welpdale D.M. 1981. Acidification in the Canadian environment. Scientific criteria for an assessment of the effects of acidic deposition on aquatic ecosystems. National Research Council of Canada Publication no. 18475, pp. 1–369. Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Havens, K.E. 1991Crustacean zooplankton food web structure in lakes of varying acidityCanadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences4818461852Google Scholar
  26. 27.
    Hildrew, A.G., Townsend, C.R., Francis, J. 1984Community structure in some southern English streams: the influence of species interactionsFreshwater Biology14297310Google Scholar
  27. 26.
    Hill, T.J., Skeffington, R.A., Whitehead, P.G. 2002Recovery from acidification in the Tillingbourne catchmentsouthern England: catchment description and preliminary resultsScience of the Total Environment282–2838197PubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Horne, M.T., Dunson, W.A. 1995Toxicity of metals and low pH to embryos and larvae of the Jefferson SalamanderAmbystoma jeffersonianumArchives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology29110114Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Kinross, J.H., Christofi, N., Read, P.A., Harriman, R. 1993Filamentous algal communities related to pH in streams in The Trossachs, ScotlandFreshwater Biology30301317Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Kuusela, K., Huusko, A. 1996Post emergence migration of stoneflies (Plecoptera) into the nearby forestEcological Entomology21171177Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Lechleitner, R., Cherry, D., Cairns, J., Stetler, D. 1985Ionoregulatory and toxicological responses of stonefly nymphs (Plecoptera) to acidic and alkaline pHArchives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology14179185Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Ledger, M.E., Hildrew, A.G. 1998Temporal and spatial variation in the epilithic biofilm of an acid streamFreshwater Biology40655670Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Ledger, M.E., Hildrew, A.G. 2000Herbivory in an acid streamFreshwater Biology43545556Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Ledger, M.E., Hildrew, A.G. 2001Growth of an acid tolerant stonefly on epilithic biofilms from streams of contrasting pHFreshwater Biology4614571470Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Leivestad, H., Muniz, I.P. 1976Fish kill at low pH in a Norvegian riverNature259391392PubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Maltby, L. 1994Stress, shredders and streams: using Gammarus energetics to assess water qualitySutcliffe, D.W. eds. Water Quality and Stress Indicators in Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems: Linking Levels of Organisation (Individual, Population, Communities)Freshwater Biological AssociationAmblesideUK98110Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Mansuy, D. 1992Les granites et la couverture pédologique dans le bassin du Rouge Rupt Leurs participations au contrôle de l’acidification des eaux (Cornimont Vosges méridionalesNancy University IFrance211Ph.D. Thesis.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Mason, C.E., Macdonald, S.M. 1989Acidification and otter (Lutra lutra) distribution in ScotlandWater Air Soil Pollution43365374Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Matthias, V.U. 1983Effects of acidification on the composition of mountain brook biocoenosesArchiv für Hydrobiologie (Suppl.)65407483Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Maurice, C.G., Lowe, R.L., Burton, T.M., Stanford, R.M. 1987Biomass and compositional changes in the periphytic community of an artificial stream in response to lowered pHWater Air Soil Pollution33165177Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Merrett, W.J., Rutt, G.P., Weatherley, N.S., Thomas, S.P., Ormerod, S.J. 1991The response of macroinvertebrates to low pH and increased aluminum concentrations in Welsh streams: Multiple episodes and chronic exposureArchiv für Hydrobiologie121115125Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Mihuc, T.B., Minshall, G.W. 1995Trophic generalists vs trophic specialists – Implications for food-web dynamics in postfire streamsEcology7623612372Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Minshall, G.W., Minshall, J.N. 1978Further evidence on the role of chemical factors in determining the distribution of benthic invertebrates in the River DuddonArchiv für Hydrobiologie83324355Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Muniz, I.P. 1991Freshwater acidification: its effects on species and communities of freshwater microbes, plants and animalsProceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh97227254Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Petersen, I., Winterbottom, J.H., Orton, S., Friberg, N., Hildrew, A.G., Spiers, D.C., Gurney, W.S.C. 1999Emergence and lateral dispersal of adult Plecoptera and Trichoptera from Broadstone streamU.KFreshwater Biology42401416Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Prechtel, A., Alewell, C., Armbruster, M., Bittersohl, J., Cullen, J.M., Evans, C.D.,  et al. 2001Response of sulphur dynamics in European catchments to decreasing sulphate depositionHydrol. Earth Syst. Sci.5311325Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Pynnönen, K. 1990Physiological responses to severe acid stress in four species of freshwater Clams (Unionidae)Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology19471478Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Scheuhammer, A.M. 1991Effects of acidification on the availability of toxic metals and calcium to wild birds and mammalsEnvironmental Pollution71329375PubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Schimmer, H., Friedrich, G., Heitkamp, U. 1991The effects of acidification on the macroinvertebrate fauna in selected mountains brooks in Sauer and Siegerland (NW Germany)Verhandlungen Internationale Vereinigung Limnologie2418351838Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Simpson, K.W., Bode, R.W., Colquhoun, J.R. 1985The macroinvertebrate fauna of an acid-stressed headwater stream system in the Adirondack Mountains, New YorkFreshwater Biology15671680Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    Stoner, J.H., Gee, A.S., Wade, K.R. 1984The effects of acidification on the ecology of streams in the upper Tywi catchment in West WalesExp. Pollut., Ser. A35125157Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    Sutcliffe, D.W., Carrick, T.R. 1973Studies on mountain streams in the English Lake districtFreshwater Biology3437462Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    Sutcliffe, D.W., Hildrew, A.G. 1989Invertebrate communities in acid streamsMorris, R.Taylor, E.W.Brown, D.J.A.Brown, J.A. eds. Acid Toxicity and Aquatic Animals, Society for Experimental Biology Seminar Series 34Cambridge University PressCambridgeUK1329Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    Tierney, D., Kelly-Quinn, M., Bracken, J.J. 1998The faunal communities of upland streams in the eastern region of Ireland with reference to afforestation impactsHydrobiologia389115130Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    Tipping, E., Bettney, R., Hurley, M.A., Isgren, F., James, J.B., Lawlor, A.J.,  et al. 2000Reversal of acidification in tributaries of the River Duddon (English Lake District) between 1970 and 1998Environmental Pollution109183191PubMedGoogle Scholar
  56. 56.
    Townsend, C.R., Hildrew, A.G., Francis, J. 1983Community structure in some Southern English streams: the influence of physicochemical factorsFreshwater Biology13521544Google Scholar
  57. 57.
    Winterbourn, M.J., Hildrew, A.G., Box, A. 1985Structure and grazing of stone surface organic layers in some acid streams of Southern EnglandFreshwater Biology15363374Google Scholar
  58. 58.
    Wood, M.C., Rogano, M.S. 1986Physiological responses to acid stress in Crayfish (Orconectes): Haemolymph ions, acid-base status, and exchanges with the environmentCanadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences4310171026Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratoire Biodiversité et Fonctionnement des EcosystémesUniversité de Metz UFR Sci-FAMetzFrance

Personalised recommendations