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Geophysical Monograph Series



  • mountain river
  • human impact
  • flow network complexity
  • habitat heterogeneity
  • macroinvertebrates
  • invertebrate diversity

Index Terms

  • 0481 Biogeosciences: Restoration
  • 1813 Hydrology: Eco-hydrology
  • 0408 Biogeosciences: Benthic processes
  • 0410 Biogeosciences: Biodiversity



Diversity of Macroinvertebrate Communities as a Reflection of Habitat Heterogeneity in a Mountain River Subjected to Variable Human Impacts

B. Wyżga, P. Oglęcki, A. Radecki-Pawlik, and J. Zawiejska

Most sections of the Czarny Dunajec River, Polish Carpathians, have been considerably modified by channelization and gravel mining-induced channel incision. As a result, the river morphology now varies from a single-thread, incised, or regulated channel to an unmanaged, multithread channel. For 18 cross sections with one to five flow threads, diversity of benthic invertebrate communities was determined and compared with low-flow channel width and the variation in flow depth, velocity, and bed material size. The increased number of flow threads in a cross section was associated with a larger aggregated width of low-flow channels and greater complexity of physical habitat conditions. Single-thread cross sections hosted four to seven invertebrate taxa, mostly eurytopic, which represented two or three functional feeding groups. In multithread cross sections, 7 to 19 taxa were recorded, with the assemblages representing all five functional groups of invertebrates and comprising taxa typical of both lentic and lotic habitats, sometimes within the same braids. The number of invertebrate taxa increased linearly with increasing number of low-flow channels in a cross section and variation in flow depth, velocity, and bed material grain size, while it was unrelated to flow width. Thus, it is the increase in habitat heterogeneity rather than simple habitat enlargement that supported the increased diversity of macroinvertebrate fauna in the multithread cross sections. This study shows that the simplification of flow pattern and the resultant homogenization of physical habitat conditions, caused by human impacts, is reflected in notable impoverishment of invertebrate communities and that restoration of morphological complexity of the river will be necessary for future recovery of these communities.

Citation: Wyżga, B., P. Oglęcki, A. Radecki-Pawlik, and J. Zawiejska (2011), Diversity of macroinvertebrate communities as a reflection of habitat heterogeneity in a mountain river subjected to variable human impacts, in Stream Restoration in Dynamic Fluvial Systems: Scientific Approaches, Analyses, and Tools, Geophys. Monogr. Ser., vol. 194, edited by A. Simon, S. J. Bennett and J. M. Castro, pp. 189–207, AGU, Washington, D. C., doi:10.1029/2010GM000983.

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