Drying duration and stream characteristics influence macroinvertebrate survivorship within the sediments of a temporary channel and exposed gravel bars of a connected perennial stream

© 2018 The Author(s) Intermittent rivers, which experience periods of flow cessation and streambed drying, occur globally. Given that the frequency and duration of stream drying events is likely to increase as a result of anthropogenic pressures and global climate change, riverbed sediments may become increasingly important as refuge habitat for benthic macroinvertebrates. Our study examined the effect of surface water loss and increasing drying duration on the survivorship of the most abundant benthic invertebrate, Gammarus pulex (L.) (Amphipoda: Gammaridae), inhabiting the wet subsurface sediments of exposed gravel bars within a perennial stream and a connected temporarily flowing side channel. G. pulex survivorship declined more over time during drying conditions compared to control conditions (flowing water present). Survivorship was greater in the temporary channel and may reflect the greater water retention capacity of fine sediments in the subsurface and abiotic stability compared to the free-draining exposed gravel bars on the main channel. Our results illustrate that saturated subsurface sediments may facilitate G. pulex persistence during surface drying events and highlight the need for effective refuge management and conservation for instream fauna during drying events.