Aquatic Ecology

, Volume 50, Issue 1, pp 1–14 | Cite as

Physicochemical predictors of the invasive diatom Didymosphenia geminata at multiple spatial scales in New Zealand rivers

  • Jonathan BrayEmail author
  • Jon S. Harding
  • Cathy Kilroy
  • Paul Broady
  • Philippe Gerbeaux


Didymosphenia geminata is an alga of major concern in temperate regions due to ongoing spread and unprecedented bloom formation. The aim of this study was to identify physical and chemical habitat conditions which affect D. geminata at catchment to patch scales. To examine this, we conducted a field-based survey of 55 distinct waterways across the South Island of New Zealand. D. geminata was detected at 82 % of waterways, grew within the periphyton at 54 % and at 25 % occurred as blooms. We tested 137 variables at scales ranging from catchment to small patches. The primary predictors of D. geminata waterway presence were still waterbodies (positive effect P < 0.05) and nitrate + nitrite (negative effect P = 0.08). D. geminata biomass was best explained by increasing river stability (P < 0.01) and decreasing nitrate + nitrite concentrations (P < 0.01). A patch-scale subsidy–stress relationship was also apparent with water velocity (P < 0.05). Our large-scale survey showed D. geminata was influenced by varied conditions at multiple spatial scales, preferentially occurring and blooming within stable, lake or dam-fed oligotrophic habitats. This work supports the finding that D. geminata blooms in response to nutrient limitation; however, results here reinforce that accrual is constrained by physical processes at multiple scales.


Didymosphenia geminata Physicochemical Physical Chemical Niche Habitat Preferences Invasive Streams Multiple scales 



The work was funded by the Department of Conservation and Ministry for Primary Industries, New Zealand. Iain Gover and Katie McHugh provided valuable assistance with GIS analysis.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 38 kb)
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Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 54 kb)
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Supplementary material 3 (DOCX 27 kb)
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Supplementary material 4 (DOCX 29 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of CanterburyChristchurchNew Zealand
  2. 2.National Institute of Atmospheric and Water ResearchChristchurchNew Zealand
  3. 3.Department of ConservationChristchurchNew Zealand

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