A comparison of the taxonomic and trait structure of macroinvertebrate communities between the riffles and pools of montane headwater streams
Macroinvertebrate community taxonomic and trait structure showed consistent differences between riffles and pools across 12 headwater streams in the Sierra Nevada (California) even as flows varied from wet to dry years and between seasons. Densities of Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, Trichoptera, Elmidae, Orthocladiinae and Diamesinae midges, and mites were greater in riffles, whereas Tanypodinae, Chironominae, Sialis, and Pisidium were more abundant in pools. Pools had higher densities but estimated biomass was greater in riffles. Collector-gatherer and micropredator abundances were greater in pools whereas grazers, collector-filterers, and macropredators were more abundant in riffles. Stonefly shredders were most abundant in riffles but some caddis shredders were more abundant in pools. Trait state patterns were related to food resource and physical habitat differences between riffles and pools. Of the distinct pool–riffle differences we found among taxa, only about half conformed to expectations from the literature. Pool and riffle assemblages were most dissimilar at intermediate discharge and converged at low and high flows when one or the other habitat dominated. Bioassessment sampling will need to account for these flow-related differences. Benthic invertebrate communities in these mountain streams clearly differ between pools and riffles, but the relative extent of habitats and biological similarity shift with flow regime.
KeywordsStream invertebrates Pools Riffles Sierra Nevada Bioassessment Stream geomorphology Headwaters Habitat preference Patch dynamics
This research was funded through Joint Venture Agreements between the Pacific Southwest Research Station, Forest Service, and the University of California, Santa Barbara (12-JV-11272139-070). We also received support in the early years from California’s State Water Resources Control Board, through Proposition 50 (the Water Security Clean Drinking Water, Coastal, and Beach Protection Act of 2002). We thank Ian Bell, Mike Bogan, Bruce Hammock, Jeff Kane, Sandi Roll, and Matt Wilson for laboratory and field assistance during this study. Helpful reviews from Sherri Johnson and Daren Carlisle improved this paper. We also thank the many Forest Service employees over the years who collected streamflow and stream habitat data for this project.
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