, Volume 68, Issue 4, pp 481–489 | Cite as

Structure and function of a benthic invertebrate stream community as influenced by beaver (Castor canadensis)

  • Donald M. McDowell
  • Robert J. Naiman
Original Papers


Beaver (Castor canadensis) affect the benthic invertebrate community of small woodland streams in Quebec through habitat modifications. Their activities influence community structure through the replacement of lotic taxa by lentic forms and community function by increasing the absolute importance of collectors and predators while decreasing the relative importance of shredders and scrapers in impounded sites. At our study site during the 1983 ice-free season, standing stocks of coarse particulate organic matter (>1 mm) were 2–5 times greater (P<0.05) in impounded sites than riffle sites in spring and summer. Fine (212 μm–1 mm) and very fine (0.5 μm–212 μm) particulate organic matter were 3–10 times greater (P<0.05) in impounded sites in all seasons. Chlorophyll a standing stocks did not differ statistically among sites. Total density and biomass of invertebrates in impoundments were 2–5 times greater (P<0.05) than riffle sites in spring and summer, but statistically similar in autumn. Generic diversity (H′) was greater (P<0.05) in unaltered sites in autumn. Non-impounded sites were dominated by Simuliidae, Tanytarsini chironomids, scraping mayflies and net spinning caddisflies while impounded sites were characterized by Tanypodinae and Chironomini chironomids, predacious odonates, Tubificidae, and filtering pelycopods. Our results suggest that current paradigms applied to lotic ecosystems need to be reevaluated to incorporate the influence of beaver upon invertebrate communities.


Particulate Organic Matter Invertebrate Community Coarse Particulate Organic Matter Benthic Invertebrate Community Lotic Ecosystem 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Donald M. McDowell
    • 1
  • Robert J. Naiman
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.Woods Hole Oceanographic InstitutionWoods HoleUSA

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