Springer

Hyporheic macroinvertebrates in riffle and pool areas of temporary streams in south eastern Australia

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Courtesy of Springer

The hyporheic zone is an important refuge for invertebrates as surface water recedes in temporary streams. In this study, the structure and functional organisation of hyporheic macroinvertebrate assemblages in pool and dry riffle bed habitats of two episodic streams were compared over summer and winter. Multivariate analyses revealed macroinvertebrate assemblages differed significantly between streams, habitats and seasons. While some seasonal differences were expected, the differences between streams were not, given the similarity and proximity of the catchments, and were due to shifts in the abundance of common taxa. Distinct differences between riffle and pool habitats were evident in both the taxonomic and functional feeding group composition of the assemblages. In particular, riffle habitats contained greater numbers of taxa and individuals and a greater proportion of filter-feeding animals compared to pool habitats. Summer samples also had greater numbers of taxa and individuals and greater proportions of collector-scrapers than winter samples. The relative abundance of functional groups was similar between streams in summer but was more variable in winter. Patterns observed in the taxonomic and functional feeding group structure of the macroinvertebrate assemblages were more characteristic of perennial than episodic streams, despite the absence of regular surface flows. This could be attributed to the relatively constant hyporheic flow in these streams. We suggest that classifications of stream flow should consider hyporheic discharge (not just surface flow) as this clearly influences the stream biota.

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