Stream macroinvertebrate assemblage uniformity and drivers in a tropical bioregion

Pearson, Richard G., Christidis, Faye, Connolly, Niall M., Nolen, Jacqui A., St Clair, Rosalind M., Cairns, Andi, and Davis, Linda (2017) Stream macroinvertebrate assemblage uniformity and drivers in a tropical bioregion. Freshwater Biology, 62 (3). pp. 544-558.

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Abstract

1. Understanding spatial and environmental drivers of undisturbed stream assemblages is important for separating natural and human-induced changes, but has rarely been attempted for an entire tropical bioregion.

2. We sampled riffle macroinvertebrate assemblages and measured associated biophysical variables in post-wet and dry seasons from 68 streams of orders 1-5 across the Australian Wet Tropics, a small bioregion (18 497 km 2) defined by its warm moist climate and closed-forest vegetation.

3. As climate and landscape were relatively uniform across the bioregion, we predicted that assemblages would be similar, with turnover (beta diversity) unrelated to distance, and with composition determined mainly by habitat.

4. We identified 93 higher taxa. Density and richness of macroinvertebrates were greatest in the dry season because of habitat contraction and minimal flow disturbance. Richness was greatest in higher order streams. 5. Relative abundance and richness of functional groups showed minor effects of catchment, lithology and stream order, and a positive relationship with altitude for richness of collectors, predators and shredders, and for abundance of shredders.

6. Distance-based linear modelling showed that among-assemblage differences were explained by landscape-scale variables (9.5% of the variation), stream size (13.0%), riparian characteristics (9.6%), water quality (4.6%), substratum (21.1%) and organic resources (22.4%); for models of individual taxa and functional groups, habitat and organic-resource variables also predominated.

7. Similarities among site assemblages differed little among catchments and there was no relationship between pairwise similarities of catchments and their geographical distances. Nestedness analysis confirmed that samples and catchment groupings were nested subsets of the total set of samples.

8. Across the Australian Wet Tropics, uniformity of assemblages (identified to family or above) conformed to the bioregional classification, probably as a result of the great age of the region. The habitat variables that most influenced macroinvertebrate assemblages support the idea that a suite of biophysical influences is common to stream macroinvertebrate assemblages globally.

Item ID: 50293
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: beta diversity, habitat templet, invertebrate community, nestedness, water quality
ISSN: 1365-2427
Funders: Australian Research Committee, Wet Tropics Management Agency, Land and Water resources R&D Corporation, Queensland Department of Natural Resources, Cooperative Research Centre for Tropical Rainforest Ecology and Management
Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2017 07:42
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060204 Freshwater Ecology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960807 Fresh, Ground and Surface Water Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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