, Volume 592, Issue 1, pp 235–247 | Cite as

Factors affecting the distribution of stream macroinvertebrates in geothermal areas: Taupo Volcanic Zone, New Zealand

  • Ian C. Duggan
  • Ian K. G. Boothroyd
  • David A. Speirs
Primary Research Paper


The distribution of macroinvertebrates was investigated among sites within five geothermally influenced and two non- or minimally-influenced streams in the Taupo Volcanic Zone, New Zealand, to examine the responses of communities to broad environmental gradients within and among habitats. To date, examination of geothermal stream macroinvertebrates has typically been from single habitats, and has not been examined over a regional scale. Sites within and among streams represented a range of sizes, depths, water velocities and substrate types. Sites with little or no geothermal influence typically had temperatures less than 15°C and pH between 5 and 8. Four of the geothermally influenced streams had temperatures greater than 25°C, and ranged from alkaline (pH 9.1) to highly acidic (pH 3.0). Most taxa recorded were typical inhabitants of non-geothermal streams that are tolerant to elevated temperatures, extreme pH conditions and/or high toxicant levels. Diptera, Coleoptera and Mollusca dominated geothermal sites, and Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera and Trichoptera were absent. In addition, an obligate dweller of geothermal habitats, Ephydrella thermarum, and a nonindigenous tropical gastropod, Melanoides tuberculata, were recorded. Canonical correspondence analysis implicated multiple factors in determining the distribution of invertebrates over the region. Overall, distribution was most strongly associated with temperature gradients, particularly longitudinally within streams. This distribution was likely directly related to species temperature tolerances, but also temperature effects on algal abundance and composition, its differential effects on species’ potential competitors and predators, and its effects on toxicant availability. Differences in invertebrate composition among streams were associated with major differences in pH and substrate. Increased acidity was associated with a significant decrease in invertebrate taxa richness, with acidic sites having a limited fauna dominated by dipterans (e.g., Naonella sp., Polypedilum sp.). Stability of flow and environmental conditions may enhance competitive interactions among taxa, enhancing the importance of substrate type in these systems. The presence of non-indigenous species (e.g., M. tuberculata, Poecilia reticulata), currently limited in distribution, also affected species composition. Overall, communities become less speciose, although more unusual in composition, with increased geothermal influence.


Temperature pH Substrate Nonindigenous species Hot springs 



We thank J. Horrox and G. Croker for enumeration and identification of most of the macroinvertebrates, and V. Cassie-Cooper and C. Kilroy who provided algal identifications. A. Cody aided in site selection. Access was provided to the Orakei Korako tourist area. J. Kelly (Environment Waikato, The University of Waikato) aided in the field. K. Collier provided comments that improved the manuscript. This project was jointly funded by Environment Waikato and by NIWA NSOF augmenting program CO1X0017, and completed with funds from FRST programme CO5X0201.

Supplementary material

10750_2007_748_ESM.pdf (191 kb)
ESM (PDF 191 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ian C. Duggan
    • 1
    • 5
  • Ian K. G. Boothroyd
    • 2
    • 3
  • David A. Speirs
    • 4
  1. 1.National Institute of Water and Atmospheric ResearchHamiltonNew Zealand
  2. 2.Kingett Mitchell & AssociatesTakapuna, AucklandNew Zealand
  3. 3.School of Geography and Environmental ScienceUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  4. 4.Environment WaikatoHamilton EastNew Zealand
  5. 5.Centre for Biodiversity and Ecology Research, Department of Biological SciencesThe University of WaikatoHamiltonNew Zealand

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