Temporal effects of enhanced fine sediment loading on macroinvertebrate community structure and functional traits

2017-04-27T10:16:57Z (GMT) by Kate Mathers Stephen Rice Paul Wood
Deposition of fine sediment that fills interstitial spaces in streambed substrates is widely acknowledged to have significant negative effects on macroinvertebrate communities, but the temporal consistency of clogging effects is less well known. In this study the effects of experimentally enhanced fine sediment content on aquatic invertebrates were examined over 126 days in two lowland UK streams. Taxonomic approaches indicated significant differences in macroinvertebrate community structure associated with sediment treatment (clean or sedimented substrates), although the effects were variable on some occasions. The degree of separation between clean and sedimented communities was strong within 7 of the 9 sampling periods with significant differences in community composition being evident. EPT taxa and taxon characterised as sensitive to fine sediment demonstrated strong responses to enhanced fine sediment loading. In marked contrast, faunal traits did not facilitate the detection of enhanced fine sediment loading. More widely, the study highlights the temporal dynamics of sedimentation effects upon macroinvertebrate communities and the need to consider faunal life histories when examining the effects of fine sediment loading pressures on lotic ecosystems.