Relations of Habitat-Specific Algal Assemblages to Land Use and Water Chemistry in the Willamette Basin, Oregon
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Benthic algal assemblages, water chemistry, and habitat were characterized at 25 stream sites in the Willamette Basin, Oregon, during low flow in 1994. Seventy-three algal samples yielded 420 taxa — mostly diatoms, blue-green algae, and green algae. Algal assemblages from depositional samples were strongly dominated by diatoms (76% mean relative abundance), whereas erosional samples were dominated by blue-green algae (68% mean relative abundance).
Canonical correspondence analysis (CCA) of semiquantitative and qualitative (presence/absence) data sets identified four environmental variables (maximum specific conductance, % open canopy, pH, and drainage area) that were significant in describing patterns of algal taxa among sites. Based on CCA, four groups of sites were identified: streams in forested basins that supported oligotrophic taxa, such as Diatoma mesodon;small streams in agricultural and urban basins that contained a variety of eutrophic and nitrogen-heterotrophic algal taxa; larger rivers draining areas of mixed land use that supported planktonic, eutrophic, and nitrogen-heterotrophic algal taxa; and streams with severely degraded or absent riparian vegetation (> 75% open canopy) that were dominated by other planktonic, eutrophic, and nitrogen-heterotrophic algal taxa. Patterns in water chemistry were consistent with the algal autecological interpretations and clearly demonstrated relationships between land use, water quality, and algal distribution patterns.
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