, Volume 499, Issue 1–3, pp 161–168 | Cite as

The quantification of local substrate heterogeneity in streams and its significance for macroinvertebrate assemblages

  • Luz Boyero


The effect of substrate heterogeneity on the structure of stream macroinvertebrate assemblages (total abundance, taxon richness, and evenness) is still not clear, but this could be due to the lack of standard methods for quantifying substrate heterogeneity. An accurate quantification of substrate heterogeneity was obtained from photographs of sampled areas (each 225 cm2), which were used to create maps that were subsequently digitized and analyzed using image analysis software. These maps allowed the calculation of multiple metrics quantifying two aspects of substrate heterogeneity: composition and spatial configuration of substrate patches. The diversity of substrate types (calculated as the Shannon diversity index), and the heterogeneity of patch compactness (calculated as the coefficient of variation of the relationship between patch dimensions) were the metrics explaining more biotic variance at the sample scale, but at higher scales there were no relationships between assemblage structure and substrate heterogeneity. Most variation in substrate heterogeneity occurred at the sample scale, while some metrics varied significantly at riffle or segment scales; these patterns of variation match those of macroinvertebrate assemblages, which had been previously studied. The importance of quantifying substrate heterogeneity and considering the spatial scales of its study are discussed.

spatial heterogeneity stream substrate patch spatial scales macroinvertebrate assemblages 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luz Boyero
    • 1
  1. 1.Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (CSIC), José Gutiérrez Abascal 2MadridSpain

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