, Volume 58, Issue 3, pp 213–231 | Cite as

Descriptive phenology and seasonality of a Canadian brown-water stream

  • Hugh F. Clifford


A phenological-type synthesis was attempted for 10 years of limnological data of a brown-water stream of Alberta, Canada. The objectives were to predict the normal occurrence of seasonal events in the stream and to formulate indices upon which to base general stream management strategies. The stream supports a diverse chironomid fauna (109 species); and four taxa, chironomids, ostracods and the ephemeropteransLeptophlebia cupida andBaetis tricaudatus, account for 61% of the total yearly fauna by numbers. There are two obvious major seasons: a 7 month ice-free season (ca 15 April–15 November) and a 5 month winter season. Based on numerical classification of physical and chemical parameters, the ice-free season is separated into spring (April and May), summer (June, July and August) and autumn (September and October) seasons; and these four seasons can serve as the basis for describing biological seasonality. There are few detectable periodic events during the long, 5-month winter season: flow and water temperature are relatively constant and at minimum values. There are no reproductive periods for species studied; no new generations appear; drift densities are at minimum values; and for most taxa, little growth takes place in winter. Some of the important phenological events of the three ice-free seasons include: (1) a total emergence, hence reproductive, period of 6 months (April–September) for aquatic insects studied, with the largest number of taxa reproducing in late June and early July; (2) a 31/2 month period (late April–early August) when water temperatures are on the rise (log phase of total degree days curve), with maximum rate increase in May, maximum rate decrease in October, and maximum water temperature values in early August; (3) a completely green (trees and marsh grasses) watershed of less than 2 months (late June–early August); (4) a leaf-drop period of 11/2 months (September–mid October), with maximum litter-fall rate in early September; (5) maximum discharge in April; (6) minimum standing crop by numbers in April and maximum numbers in September; (7) maximum daily drift and drift densities (all taxa) in August; (8) maximum impounding effect of beaver dams in September; (9) maximum aquatic macrophyte standing crop in September; and (10) maximum ‘potential’ food resources (detritus of aquatic macrophyte and terrestrial leaf origin) in mid October.


Phenology seasonality northern stream stream invertebrates Ephemeroptera 


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Copyright information

© Dr. W. Junk b. v. publishers 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hugh F. Clifford
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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