Benthic Macroinvertebrate community structural and functional-group response to thermal enhancement in the Savannah River and a coastal-plain tributary

LeRoy POFF, Robin Matthews

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    Benthic macroinvertebrate community structure and functional groups on leaf detritus in a thermal, post-thermal and an undisturbed stream, and in the Savannah River immediately downstream from each stream mouth, were compared over a 7 wk (48d) period from December 1982 to February 1983. Ambient temperatures n the post-thermal and undisturbed streams ranged from 4 to 8 and 4 to 11°C, respectively, and from 7 to 12°C in the Savannah River. Temperatures in the thermal stream fluctuated irregularly between 7 to 31°C and in the river below this stream mouth between 7 to 22°C. A total of 13,993 macroinvertebrates representing at least 51 families and 84 genera was collected. Numbers of organisms and taxa were depressed at the thermal stream site, whereas numbers of both organisms and taxa increased at the river site receiving thermal influence. Chironomids of the subfamily Orthocladiinae comprised 46 to 60% of the fauna at all sites except in the thermal stream, where they comprised 5%. Physa (Gastropoda), Ablabesmyia (Tanypodinae) and Tanytarsus (Chironominae) each contributed over 20% of the fauna at the thermal stream. Cheumatopsyche (Trichoptera) represented 12 to 13% of the riverine fauna at the ambient sites, but 25% at the thermally-perturbed site. Collectors (mostly gatherers) contributed 51 to 75% at all sites except the thermal stream where scrapers dominated with 39%. Filterer relative abundance increased from 16 to 19% at the ambient river sites to 29% at the thermally-perturbed river site, suggesting that suspended carbon transport from the thermal stream occurred and subsidized the macroinvertebrate community in the Savannah River. 48 references, 3 figures, 2 tables.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)119-137
    JournalArchiv fur Hydrobiologie
    Publication statusPublished - 1986


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