Diversification of stream invertebrate communities by large wood
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© 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.To evaluate the effects of large wood (LW) on benthic habitats and macroinvertebrates in sand-bed lowland rivers, we compared invertebrate communities recorded on four pieces of LW (12 samples in total) and around them (60 samples) with those in four control sites in the same river (four samples). Mean flow velocity was 32% lower in the channel areas surrounding the LW than in control sites, while median sediment grain size was 50% higher, and the organic matter content of the riverbed sediments was 287% higher. At the same time, habitat conditions showed threefold to 1000-fold increases in variance for five key abiotic habitat descriptors in the surrounding channel extending at least 60 cm upstream and 160 cm downstream of the LW. Three habitat patches typically occurred around the LW pieces: scouring pools, sand bars and accumulations of organic matter. These patches were colonised by distinctive invertebrate communities (e.g. accumulations of organic matter and gravel hosted 15 and 2 indicator taxa, respectively) that overall harboured 110% more taxa and exhibited a 168% higher diversity than control sites. The LW itself contributed only a small fraction to these increases, exhibiting a 15% increase in taxa richness and a 21% increase in species diversity compared to the control sites. The diversification of benthic invertebrate communities colonising streambed sediments around LW could be directly linked to the much more heterogeneous habitat conditions recorded there. Thus, local additions of large wood within river restoration programmes have the potential to promote the establishment of diverse invertebrate communities in extended areas of a river channel.
AuthorsPilotto, F; Bertoncin, A; Harvey, GL; Wharton, G; Pusch, MT
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