A time series observation of two stream communities: disturbance, seasonal variation, and macroinvertebrate assemblages

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King, Donovan Nathaniel
Macroinvertebrate surveys offer a rapid and cost-effective approach for research linking hydrological indices with biological communities in streams. While macroinvertebrates have been successfully used to describe water quality, only recently has research demonstrated their use for describing flow regime. The intent of my research was to describe the response of benthic communities in headwater streams to seasonal and hydrological variation. In 2014, I sampled two streams biweekly in the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire from stream thaw in early April until streams froze in late December. I found changes in taxonomic and functional membership and assemblage rheophily in apparent response to hydrological disturbance. Assemblage response patterns to high flow were similar at both sites for a period of approximately five days. Beyond five days, the recovery was unique to each site, however, and emphasized the importance of considering both the spatial and temporal nature of lotic environments when describing benthic communities. These findings become more important as effective policy-making in the face of a changing climate and continuing human impacts requires thorough understanding of abiotic influences on our aquatic communities.