Disturbance and the community structure of stream invertebrates: patch‐specific effects and the role of refugia

MARGARET A. PALMER, PETER A. RENSBURGER, P. SILVER BOTTS, CHRISTINE C. HAKENKAMP, JANET W. REID

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations

Abstract

1. We have previously shown that the impact of spates on stream invertebrates may differ among patches separated by distances of metres or less. Here we analyse the species‐specific flood responses of larval chironomids and adult and near mature copepods living in different patch types. Four patch types (with eight replicates of each) were compared: the sandy mid‐channel, fine sediments around dams, coarse sediments around dams, and dam debris. Additionally, since some fine sediment patches had been shown previously to act as flow refugia while others did not, we also examined species‐specific responses in refugium vs. non‐refugium fine sediment patches. Detrended correspondence analysis was used to test for changes in assemblage structure (species composition and relative abundance). 2. Species richness was not altered in a predictable manner by floods; the least stable patch types (mid‐channel and coarse patches) did not necessarily show reduced species richness during the spate. 3. As indicated by the spread of DCA ordination scores, there was generally a high degree of overlap in the species composition among the four patch types. Nevertheless, copepod species composition and relative abundance were more similar among patch types during the spate than pre‐spate. Spates may induce a re‐distribution of copepod species among the patch types. Chironomid species composition and relative abundance were no more similar among patch types during the spate than pre‐ or post‐spate. 4. For both chironomids and copepods, species composition and relative abundance (as assessed by DCA ordination scores) in refugium patches changed more in response to the spate than in the non‐refugium patches. An influx of individuals from just a few species for each group was responsible for the change in assemblage structure. Thus, despite the fact that our past work has shown that refugia may confer enhanced resistance and resilience of copepod and chironomid assemblages in terms of total faunal abundances, the present work suggests that resistance and resilience of the species composition of the community apparently are no greater in refugium patches than in non‐refugium patches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)343-356
Number of pages14
JournalFreshwater Biology
Volume34
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1995

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aquatic Science

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