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Influence of riverbank stabilization techniques on taxonomic and functional macrobenthic communities

Abstract

Riverbank erosion is linked to increasing risks in piedmont areas due to urbanization and hydromorphological alterations of rivers. Changes in riparian vegetation and in sediment dynamics modify aquatic macroinvertebrate communities. In this context, riverbank stabilization is a major issue in the conservation of stream ecosystem functioning. In this study, we aimed at assessing the impacts of riverbank stabilization techniques on the taxonomic and functional properties of benthic macroinvertebrate communities living in alpine mountain streams. For this purpose, the effects of four riverbank stabilization techniques (riprap, mixed, cribwall, and fascine) on the taxonomic richness and biological traits involved in the main ecological processes were tested and compared with natural bank conditions. Overall, the macroinvertebrate richness was lower in stabilized banks than in natural conditions, and communities welcomed on natural banks were significantly different from those found on managed banks. The biological trait composition such as “maximum potential size,” “life cycle duration,” “reproduction,” “feeding habits,” and “trophic status” differed significantly among riverbanks, especially between natural banks and the riprap, mixed, and cribwall trio. In a context of macroinvertebrate biodiversity and functional restoration, we can advocate the fascine technique as the most suitable technique tested.

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Acknowledgements

This work would not have been possible without the help of the Irstea Mountain Ecosystem Research Unit of Grenoble, Paul Sabatier University, CNRS Ecolab, Toulouse, and Hepia, Genève. The authors are also grateful to Franck Baz, Emmanuelle Dauffy-Richard, Cécile Etienne, Ghislain Huyghe, Patrice Prunier, and Frédéric Labat (AQUABIO society) for their active support. The French Agency for biodiversity (AFB), French-Swiss Interreg IV Project Geni’Alp, and the Agence de l’Eau Rhone-Alpes are thanked for funding this study.

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Correspondence to Paul Cavaillé.

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Handling editor: Marcelo S. Moretti

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Cavaillé, P., Dumont, B., Van Looy, K. et al. Influence of riverbank stabilization techniques on taxonomic and functional macrobenthic communities. Hydrobiologia 807, 19–35 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10750-017-3380-3

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Keywords

  • Riverbank restoration
  • Bioengineering
  • Macroinvertebrates
  • Taxonomic richness
  • Biological traits