, Volume 406, Issue 0, pp 149–163 | Cite as

Micro-distribution of oligochaetes in a soft-bottomed lowland stream (Elsbeek; The Netherlands)

  • Piet F. M. Verdonschot


This study focuses on a low-gradient, soft-bottomed stream which shows strong fluctuations in discharge, partly natural (i.e. due to rainfall) and partly due to agricultural land-use. This dynamic discharge pattern causes silt deposition between discharge peaks which in turn cause the silt to be washed out. This process occurs independently from the height of the peak. The main substrate in the stream is quite homogeneous fine sand. Twenty-three species of oligochaetes were found. Their distribution and abundance varied with season and substrate. Mature tubificids and Lumbriculus variegatus occurred throughout the year. Stylodrilus heringianus occurred in winter and spring. Different naidids occur in different seasons, though half of the species can be collected all year. The micro-habitat of three tubificids, one lumbriculid and eight naidids were be identified. A high number of oligochaete species coexisted in a small stretch of the stream due to a separation in micro-habitat in space and time. The temporal variation in distribution was due to season. Particle size, the mineral and organic component of the substrate, and position in the stream bed influenced the spatial distribution of species. Temporal and spatial distribution of oligochaetes can not be separated.

oligochaete hydraulics discharge substrate organic matter season 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Aston, R. J., 1973. Tubificids and water quality: a review. Envir. Pollut. 5: 1–10.Google Scholar
  2. Berg, K., 1938. Studies on the bottom animals of Esrom Lake. K.Danske Vidensk. Selsk. Naturv. Math. Afd. 8: 1–255.Google Scholar
  3. Brinkhurst, R. O., 1967. The distribution of aquatic oligochaetes in Saginaw Bay, Lake Huron. Limnol. Oceanogr. 12: 137–143.Google Scholar
  4. Brinkhurst, R. O., K. E. Chua & N. K. Kaushik, 1972. Interspecific interactions and selective feeding by tubificid oligochaetes. Limnol. Oceanogr. 17: 122–133.Google Scholar
  5. Cummins, K. W. & G. H. Lauff, 1969. The influence of substrate particle size on the microdistribution of stream benthos. Hydrobiologie 34: 145–181.Google Scholar
  6. Doeglas, D. J., 1968. Grain-size indices, classification and environment. Sedimentology 10: 83–100.Google Scholar
  7. Faber, Th., 1972. Regimes and regime-related basin properties of some Dutch small rivers. Thesis, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam.Google Scholar
  8. Frissell, C. A., W. J. Liss, C. E. Warren & M. D. Hurley, 1986. A Hierarchical Framework for stream Habitat Classification: Viewing Streams in a Watershed Context. Envir. Mgmt 10: 199–214.Google Scholar
  9. Gauch, H. G., 1982. Multivariate analysis in community ecology. Cambridge University Press, 1–298, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  10. Hildrew, A. G. & C. R. Townsend, 1976. The distribution of two predators and their prey in an iron rich stream. J. anim. Ecol. 45: 41–57.Google Scholar
  11. Hynes, H. B. N., 1970. The ecology of running waters. Liverpool Univ. Press, Liverpool: 1–202.Google Scholar
  12. Kajak, Z. & K. Dusoge, 1971. The regularities of vertical distribution of benthos in bottom sediments of three Masurian lakes. Ecol. Pol. 19: 485–499.Google Scholar
  13. Korn, H., 1963. Studien zur Ökologie der Oligochaeten in der oberen Donau unter Berücksichtigung der Abwassereinwirkungen. Arch. Hydrobiol. Suppl. 27: 131–182.Google Scholar
  14. Lazim, M. N. & M. A. Learner, 1987. The influence of sediment composition and leaf litter on the distribution of tubificid worms (Oligochaeta). A field and laboratory study. Oecologia 72: 131–136.Google Scholar
  15. Learner, M. A., 1979. The distribution and ecology of the Naididae (Oligochaeta) which inhabit the filter-beds of sewage-works in Britain. Wat. Res. 13: 1291–1299.Google Scholar
  16. Learner, M. A., G. Lochhead & B. D. Hughes, 1978. A review of the biology of British Naididae (Oligochaeta) with emphasis on the lotic environment. Freshwat. Biol. 8: 357–375.Google Scholar
  17. McMurtry, M. J., D. J. Rapport & K. E. Chua, 1983. Substrate selection by tubificid oligochaetes. Can. J. Fish. aquat. Sci. 40: 1639–1646.Google Scholar
  18. Sarkka, J. & L. Paasivirta, 1972. Vertical distribution and abundance of macro-and micro-fauna in the profundal sediments of Lake Paijanne, Finland. Ann. Zool. Fenn. 9: 1–9.Google Scholar
  19. Southwood, T. R. E., 1977. Ecological methods with particular reference to the study of insect populations. Chapman and Hall, London.Google Scholar
  20. Sperber, C., 1950. A guide for the determination of European Naididae. Zool. Bidr. Upps. 29: 45–78.Google Scholar
  21. Stimpson, K. S., J. R. Brice, M. T. Barbour & P. Howe, 1975. Distribution and abundance of inshore oligochaetes in Lake Michigan. Trans. am. microsc. Soc. 94: 384–394.Google Scholar
  22. Ter Braak, C. J. F., 1990. Update notes: Canoco version 3.10. Agricultural Mathematics Group, Wageningen, The Netherlands.Google Scholar
  23. Ter Braak, C. J. F. & I. C. Prentice, 1988. A theory of gradient analysis. Adv. Ecol. Res. 18: 271–317.Google Scholar
  24. Ter Braak, C. J. F. & P. F. M. Verdonschot, 1995. Canonical correspondence analysis and related multivariate methods in aquatic ecology. Aquat. Sci. 57: 255–289.Google Scholar
  25. Tolkamp, H. H., 1980. Organism-substrate relationships in lowland streams. Thesis, Agricultural University Wageningen. 1–211.Google Scholar
  26. Verdonschot, P. F. M. & C. J. F. Ter Braak, 1994. An experimental manipulation of oligochaete communities in mesocosms treated with chlorpyrifos or nutrient additions: multivariate analyses with Monte Carlo permutation tests. Hydrobiologia 278: 251–266.Google Scholar
  27. Wachs, B., 1967. Die Oligochaetenfauna der Fliessgewässer unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Beziehungen zwischen der Tubificiden-besiedlung und dem Substrat. Arch. Hydrobiol. 63: 310–386.Google Scholar
  28. Wenthworth, C. K., 1922. A scale of grade and class terms for clastic sediments. J. Geol. 30: 377–392.Google Scholar
  29. Zahner, R., 1967. Experimente zur Analyse biologischer, chemischer und physikalischer Vorgänge in der Wasser-Sediment-Grenzschicht stehender und langzam strömender Gewässer. I. Beschreibung der Versuchsanlage mit vorläufigen Ergebnissen über das Verhalten der Tubificiden in Wahlversuchen. Int. Rev. ges. Hydrobiol. 52: 627–645.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Piet F. M. Verdonschot
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Forestry and Nature ResearchWageningenthe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations